Ghazal 99, Verse 1


;hairaa;N huu;N dil ko ro))uu;N kih pii;Tuu;N jigar ko mai;N
maqduur ho to saath rakhuu;N nau;hah-gar ko mai;N

1) I am bewildered/distracted-- would/should I weep for the heart, or beat [my breast] for the liver?
2) [if] there would be capacity [in me], then I would keep with me a [hired] mourner


;hairaa;N : 'In a state of confusion or perplexity; perplexed, bewildered, distracted, confounded, astonished... , disturbed; harassed, plagued, worried, distressed'. (Platts pp. 482-83)


maqduur : 'Power, ability; capacity; —means, resources; —presumption, presumptuousness'. (Platts p.1055)


nau;hah-gar : 'One who laments, a mourner; — a hired mourner'. (Platts p.1159)


We deduce the meaning that both heart and liver were such gentlemen of rank and glory that under any circumstances mourning for them must be performed. If I can't do it myself, then I ought to retain a mourner, so that I would grieve for one, and the mourner would grieve for the other. (103)

== Nazm page 103

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, if for two esteemed dead ones only one person would be a mourner, then that's a diminution of the dead ones' glory. There's a lessening of their honor. Thus if I have the capability, then I would keep with me a mourner-- that is I weep, saying, 'alas for the heart!' and he beats [his breast], saying, 'alas for the liver!'. Or I would recite an elegy for one, and he a lament for the other. (154)

Bekhud Mohani:

It's intolerable that I wouldn't grieve for the heart; it's intolerable that I wouldn't grieve for the liver. Oh my God, I'm alone-- for which one would I grieve? If I had the resources, then I would keep a mourner, so that they could be mourned for. That is, neither among them is such that grieving for it wouldn't be necessary. (200)


JIGAR: {2,1}

The verse poses for itself a kind of finicky little problem-- the speaker is vexed over a social dilemma, on the order of 'which funeral should I go to, when two are happening at the same time?' The speaker's ruminations continue into the second line, which is also in the future subjunctive. Just as the speaker cudgels his brain in the first line about how to juggle the task of simultaneous mourning for the two different departed ones, in the second line he speculates about whether he might manage to hire a mourner (if his resources permit) to follow him around and assist him in his funereal duties. Most people might hire a mourner for a single particular occasion, but the speaker could quite well use a full-time one to follow him around, if only he could afford it. The tone of the whole verse is amusingly fidgety, punctilious, even perhaps a bit petulant.

And what underlies it all? We know only by implication, but of course implication is a powerful tool for conveying knowledge. We know that the two late lamented are the Heart and the Liver. And we know that in ghazal physiology it is the task of the passionate heart to export blood (through bleeding wounds, tears of blood, etc.) and of the reliable, enduring liver to manufacture and supply fresh blood. (For more on all this, see {30,2}.) If it's his own heart and liver that he's lost-- as it seems to be-- then in fact the speaker is doomed, if not already half-dead. If they've both died at once, then it's all over. He's destroyed, he's done for, he might as well relax, lie down and die, and then let other people worry about how to mourn for him.

Thus the enjoyableness of the verse. For this isn't how the lover sees it at all. The question of his own terrible suffering, his losses, his own imminent death, doesn't even seem to arise. Even the double bereavement he has suffered moves him not to a frenzy of grief, but to a minor fuss about the social niceties of mourning. The fact that he considers hiring a professional nau;hah-gar , whose 'mourning' would be only for show, makes this clear; and it seems that the main reason he wouldn't hire such a professional is that it might well cost more than he can afford ( maqduur ho to ). Is the lover completely mad, so that he no longer sees his own plight? Or is he so burned out that he no longer has the slightest interest in it? (After all, his heart is gone!)

We are thus invited to see much more than the lover sees, and to feel for him more than he apparently feels for himself. And also, of course, to enjoy his completely absurd and disproportionate social anxieties. There's no reason the lover's plight can't be funny, despite its being tragic. This is just one of the many subtleties Ghalib can pull off, in the crevices (and sometimes huge chasms) between the simple words of two small lines.