Ghazal 97, Verse 6


jo munkar-e vafaa ho fareb us pah kyaa chale
kyuu;N bad-gumaa;N huu;N dost se dushman ke baab me;N

1) the one who would be a denier of faithfulness-- what trick would work on that one?!
2) why {am I / would I be} distrustful of a friend, with regard to an enemy?



That is, the Rival can't use false expressions of faithfulness to deceive her. So why would I be suspicious of the beloved, who doesn't even believe at all in anyone's faithfulness? (99)

== Nazm page 99

Bekhud Dihlavi:

The meaning of the verse is that my friend is a denier of faithfulness, the Other's pretense of faithfulness cannot work on her. Why would I be suspicious of a friend with regard to an enemy, thinking that she has been taken in by a pretense of faithfulness? (149)

Bekhud Mohani:

With regard to the Rival, Mirza has not said, may his faithfulness not succeed in its task! Rather, he has made the enemy the source of a pretense of faithfulness. That is, he is neither a true lover, nor faithful. (195)


Compare {42,1}. (234)



There is someone in the first line who denies the very possibility or existence of faithfulness, so that a deceit couldn't work on him/her. This person seems to be the beloved, as the commentators assume; I agree with them. But then in the second line there's a 'friend' and an 'enemy'. The commentators assume that the beloved is the friend, and the Rival or Other is the enemy. I agree that that's a plausible reading. But there can be another reading as well. It's not by accident that the line doesn't tell us who's who.

For what if we read the 'enemy' as the beloved, and the 'friend' as one of the many Rivals or Others who flock around her? We know the beloved can sometimes be called an 'enemy', as she straightforwardly is in {4,3}. And we know the lover is on tolerable social terms with some of the Others. In at least one case ({43,1}), the lover's own friend and confidant [raaz-daan] eventually succumbs to his constant talk of the beloved's charms, and almost involuntarily becomes a Rival. If this could happen with one of his friends, the lover must always wonder whether it could happen with others. Also consider {53,6-10}, a verse-set that explores the complex relationship among beloved, lover, and Other, which includes an appearance of friendship and concern shown by the Other toward the lover. In the previous verse, {97,5}, Nazm considers that the lover regularly attends the Rival's social gatherings. And so on.

In short, it's possible to make a case that the friend/enemy distinction can go both ways. Why should the lover quarrel with the faithless beloved, just because the faithless Other may be trying vainly to trick her (since the lover knows he won't succeed)? Or-- why should the lover quarrel with the faithless Other, just because he may be trying vainly to trick the equally faithless beloved? In one sense, this 'Other as friend' idea can't be pushed too hard-- we all know the Other is radically treacherous, and so does the lover. But then, we also know the beloved herself is radically treacherous. And so does the lover, though he often tries his best not to admit it. (The second line is framed as a question, after all-- one that the lover asks himself as he tries to rationalize his situation, to conceal from himself the depths of deceit all around him.)

So the ultimate point of the verse, its real piquancy and bite, lies in our being led to realize the lover's dire plight. The only people available to him as 'friends' are deeply treacherous and probably hostile. In the previous verse, {97,5}, we saw how easy it was for him to assume that they (the beloved? the Rival? both?) would move from denying him wine at parties, to poisoning him. The real shock of the present verse is that the lover is willing to use the term 'friend' about either one of these faithless wretches. But of course, he has no choice. Through careful ambiguity and elegant implication, Ghalib has shown us the lover's whole terrible dilemma in the space of two lines.

Compare Mir's take on a similar situation: M{480,1}.

Note for grammar fans: In the second line, huu;N might also be a future subjunctive. Of course this form is quite uncommon, since it's almost always replaced by ho jaa))uu;N . Compare the usage in the following verse, {97,7}.