Ghazal 97, Verse 3


taa phir nah inti:zaar me;N nii;Nd aa))e ((umr bhar
aane kaa ((ahd kar ga))e aa))e jo ;xvaab me;N

1) so that, in waiting, sleep wouldn't come again/then for a whole lifetime
2) she left with a promise to come-- she who came in a dream



In this verse he's described the mischievousness of the beloved, and many inventive ghazal composers run headlong in this direction. And the verse in which the beloved's mischievousness would emerge-- that verse is indeed a good ghazal verse. Here the author has rejected [=omitted] the word vuh , and through this rejection has produced the subtle meaning that everybody knows that I don't even mention anybody else except her. Or consider it this way: that it's as if while in his heart he's been conversing with the beloved, this remark emerged from his lips, and remained in the recesses of his mind. In the poetry of the eloquent ones, there are many reasons for the omission and rejection of utterances. But here, there can be both reasons that have been mentioned. (98)

== Nazm page 98

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, while in a state of waiting, we considered that she wouldn't come. Through ill fortune, our eyes closed. She came in a dream, and promised to come, and left. That is, she left after saying, 'wait for me, I'll certainly come'. And she made this promise so that for my whole life sleep would never come to me again. (148)

Bekhud Mohani:

The lover is seeing the beloved in a dream. In the dream, she promised to come. After his eyes open, he is more restless and anxious. But there's no sign of the beloved anywhere. Sleep has fled-- now neither does she come, nor does sleep come. In passion, when does wisdom remain established? Now the heart is in such a state that it never at all occurs to him that to wait for the fulfillment of a promise made in a dream is folly. In this state he is saying, this promise was made not so that she would come, but in order to torment me-- so that I would long in vain for sleep. In short, when awake, he had no composure. If his eyes closed for a brief while, then he forgot his grief, but now he's been deprived even of this. (194)


DREAMS: {3,3}

As Nazm points out, there's no subject pronoun in the whole verse-- except jo , which of course should in principle be accompanied by a vuh . Contrary to his usual habit of criticizing omitted grammatical items, Nazm gives Ghalib credit for the clever effect he has thus created. I think he's right to do so; it's clearly a deliberate strategy, and in any case omission of the subject is colloquially permissible in Urdu if the sense is clear.

Zauq uses the same device in one of his most famous verses-- a verse which is also completely devoid of a subject, and in a way that's at first even more (deliberately) confusing:

laa))ii ;hayaat aa))e qa.zaa le chalii chale
apnii ;xvushii nah aa))e nah apnii ;xvushii chale

[life brought (us), (we) came; death took (us) away, (we) went
(we) neither came at our pleasure, nor went at our pleasure]

In Zauq's verse, the deliberate confusingness of the first line is resolved in the second; in Ghalib's verse, the first line is an opaque phrase that only whets the listener's curiosity, and the confusion then comes in a wild rush of verbs in the second line.

For the conspicuous verb-play and wordplay in the second line, involving three separate uses of aanaa accompanied by one jaanaa , is really remarkable. It not only provides a pleasure of its own, but also combines with the word order and the lack of a subject to create additional confusion-- a kind of disordered, dreamlike state. The sequence ga))e aa))e is especially evocative of the lover's disorientation and the beloved's ungraspability.

The cruel beloved has appeared in the lover's dream, and promised to come (again), and then vanished. As a result, the lover expects sleep never to come to him for the rest of his life. Why might this be?

1) Sleep will never come because he'll be so excited with eagerness at the thought of going to sleep and seeing her again in another dream, that he'll be too overwrought to get to sleep. (In short, a catch-22 situation-- he so longs to receive her visit that he can't sleep, and because he can't sleep he'll never receive her visit.)

2) Sleep will never come because as a lover he's destined to ill-fortune in everything. Sleep was already a rare luxury (remember how endless the nights of separation are, as in {97,2}), and is now a thing radiant with the promise of another dream of her. Thus it's doubly guaranteed that sleep will never by even the remotest chance come near him.

3) Sleep will never come because he will force himself to stay awake, and will be too excited to sleep anyway, in case she actually intends to come to him in real life, and he could never risk missing such a once-in-a-lifetime event as that.

Even beyond these undecideable possibilities, we're left with other questions as well. Did the beloved in any sense 'really' appear in his dream and make such a promise, or did the lover just invent it all out of his own longing and desperation? If she did make the promise, was it a cruel deception designed to torment him, or a brief flicker of genuine kindness, such that she might even actually fulfill it? And if she did make the promise at all, does it apply to the dream world, or to the actual waking world? Needless to say, there's no possibility of answering any of these questions. The only thing we can be sure of is that the lover thinks the beloved has arranged for him to be sleepless for the rest of his life.

For a less sadistic take on the dream-beloved and the lover's sleep, see {193,1}. Since the beloved does visit at least in a dream, this verse is a kind of honorary member of the 'beloved visits the lover' set; for the full list, see {106,2}.