Ghazal 97, Verse 7


mai;N mu.z:tarib huu;N me;N ;xauf-e raqiib se
;Daalaa hai tum ko vahm ne kis pech-o-taab me;N

1) I would/might be uneasy, in union, from fear of a Rival?!
2) in what agitation has illusion put you?


huu;N is, for the commentators, the usual 'am'. In my reading, following Faruqi, it should be interpreted as the future subjunctive (from huu;Ngaa ).


That is, in union, I have the agitation of thinking, 'May the Rival not come and, seeing my anxiety, may the beloved not entertain the illusory idea that I have come to her after secretly meeting some beloved, and that that's why I'm anxious!' (99)

== Nazm page 99


In union, I'm fearful that the Rival might come. This is the cause of my restlessness. But you have the illusion that I've come from secretly meeting some other beloved, and that's why I'm restless. (86)

Bekhud Mohani:

I am anxious with fear that the Rival might come, and you, perceiving this, are agitated. After all, what false notion do you have at a time like this? That is, do you too fear the Rival, or that I love somebody else and have come from secretly meeting her? (195)


The fundamental thing is that the beloved's agitation is due to 'illusion'. That is, the beloved has an 'illusion' (a false idea, a groundless thought) because of which she is agitated. From the word 'what' [kis] it is clear that in the speaker’s opinion this agitation is unnecessary, or in fact even improper. For example we say, 'You think I’ll be afraid of the rain? What kind of idea have you gotten into your head?' In other words, your idea is false, it is groundless.

In the second line, the inquiry is about agitation, not illusion. That is, the question is not, 'What illusion do you harbor now?'; rather, the question is, 'What agitation are you in now?'. The reason for the agitation has become apparent of itself-- that the reason is illusion. Accordingly, the verse's basic problem is: what illusion is it because of which the beloved is consumed with agitation?....

In fact, in the first line the inquiry is a negative one. At the time of union the lover is restless. The beloved considers that this restlessness is due to fear of a Rival, and is agitated at the thought of the lover’s cowardice. The lover says, 'What the hell-- at the time of union, am I one to become restless with fear of a Rival? You’re caught up in an illusion, and the illusion has put you into a strange, baseless agitation. In union I am indeed restless, but what connection does that have with fear of a Rival? This restlessness is in fact because of emotional intensity, not because of cowardice or fear. What the hell kind of illusion are you in, and why are you agitated?'

It's as if both lines are interrogative. In the first line there's a negative rhetorical question: 'I-- and to become restless through fear of a Rival?'. In the second line, the inquiry is of a sarcastic type.

== (1989: 128-29) [2006: 151-52]


'UNION': {5,2}

It's hard to envision the circumstances in which this verse would actually be said. The lover so rarely can even imagine obtaining the delights of 'union' with the beloved that the situation should be almost sacred to him. And are we to think that at such a moment he is offering some kind of boastful claim, and she is making snide remarks, so that the two are engaged in a sort of vulgar bickering? And why are they having, uh, 'union' under circumstances where a Rival could, it seems, walk in on them? 'Pfui' (as Nero Wolfe spells it), say I.

Faruqi has explicated the verse, treating the huu;N in the first line as a future subjunctive, not a present tense, so that the first line becomes a sort of negative rhetorical question or exclamation. 'What-- you think I'd be afraid of a Rival?!' And so on; it all makes sense in its way. I'll settle for his explanation. He doesn't seem to find the verse as irritating as I do.

I think it's a travesty. Maybe this is just a personal reaction; I'll give it more thought. There's something in my vision of the ghazal world that doesn't admit of a verse like this, with its overtones (to me, at least) of pettiness, nagging, suspicion, and vulgarity. If the lover and the beloved are actually going to achieve their almost-impossible-to-imagine 'union', let it be worthy of all they've gone through to get to it! In this verse, it doesn't seem to be.

One possibility that just occurred to me is that they are not actually having 'union', just contemplating or considering it (since the verb in the first line can be read as a future subjunctive). But such a discussion still doesn't show either of their personalities in a very attractive light.

It has been argued that all ghazal verses can, in principle, be read as addressed to a Divine Beloved. This verse alone ought to be more than sufficient to discredit that idea. For more examples of such verses, see {20,3}.

The next verse, {97,8}, is more in the classic ghazal style in its treatment of 'union'. And consider {98,5}, which also makes use of a vahm , a pech -o-taab , and an Other-- but to such different effect. For more on Ghalib's erotic verses, see {99,4}; this particular verse hardly seems to belong among them.