Ghazal 85, Verse 7

{85,7}

fikr-e dunyaa me;N sar khapaataa huu;N
mai;N kahaa;N aur yih vabaal kahaa;N

1) in worry/anxiety about the world I {wrack my brains / 'ruin the head'}

2a) how can I and this curse/ruin be equal/compared?!
2b) I am-- where?! and this curse/ruin-- where?!

Notes:

khapaanaa : 'To destroy, make an end of, make away with, to despatch; to ruin, ravage, lay waste; to end, finish, complete, exhaust'. (Platts p.869)

 

vabaal : 'An unhealthy climate or atmosphere; --anything painful or distressing; bane, pest, plague; --a crime, sin, fault; --punishment (for a crime); divine vengeance; curse; misfortune; ruin'. (Platts p.1178)

Nazm:

That is, there was a time when I had no relationship at all with any worldly cares or concerns. (84)

== Nazm page 84

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, 'I was a slave of passion; I was involved with the grief of passion. I used to endure the difficulties of separation, I used to enjoy the pleasures of union. What did I have to do with the grief of the world? What did I consider that curse/ruin to be?' (134)

Bekhud Mohani:

Now I am, and the worry about livelihood [mai;N huu;N aur...]. Where am I, and where this snare! He expresses the movement of the time, and his own oppression. That is, he shows the disrespect of the people of the world; and if things were not like this, then why would a free one like me become involved in these quarrels? (173)

FWP:

SETS == EXCLAMATION; IDIOMS; KAHAN

Some general points about this whole gazal have been made in {85,1}.

This verse makes excellent use of the idiomatic pattern kahaa;N yih kahaa;N vuh , where the point is that the two items are radically incommensurable-- how could they even be mentioned in the same breath? The famous proverb kahaa;N raajaa bhoj kahaa;N ganguu telii ['Where [is] Raja Bhoj, where [is] Gangu the Oil-presser?!'] comes to mind: it expresses the extremes of the social system, with its two ends that cannot be imagined as meeting. For another example of this usage, see {219,9}.

Here, as so often, Ghalib uses an idiom in an unexpectedly complex way. Consider some of its possibilities:

=How can I, a former lover, have fallen so low as now to immerse myself in worldly worries? I should instead be experiencing the grief of passion, which is my only proper concern.

=How can I, a helpless and hapless type with no resources, possibly cope with the manifold practical difficulties of making a living in the real world?

=My perpetual worry and anxiety is what really wears me down. I ruin my brains with all this self-torment about life in general. How can my mind endure the ruinous burden of such constant anxiety and distress?

In other words, the flexibility of the kahaa;N ... kahaa;N idiom makes possible three quite different readings of the nature of the ex-lover's suffering. It might be due to shame at his personal history, to practical difficulties in the world, or to psychological self-torment. (Or, of course, all of the above.)

And the nature of the idiom also makes us ask about the relation between self-inflicted and external kinds of ruin. To wrack (or ruin) your brains, sar khapaanaa , is a form of ruin that both is self-generated (since you do it to yourself), and is not self-generated (since outside factors cause you to do it). So one may well ask, where am I, and where is this vabaal , this curse/ misfortune/ burden/ ruin?! I and it are incommensurable, poles apart, as the idiom makes clear. But obviously I and it are also related fairly intimately. After all, it's the very immediate 'this' curse, not the more usual 'that' one. Am I trapped inside it [fikr-e dunyaa me;N], or is it a (mind-generated) part of me? Or, as usual, both at once?