Ghazal 104, Verse 1

{104,1}*

qiyaamat hai kih sun lail;aa kaa dasht-e qais me;N aanaa
ta((ajjub se vuh bolaa yuu;N bhii hotaa hai zamaane me;N

1) it's a disaster/Doomsday-- having heard of Laila's coming into the desert of Qais
2) with surprise she said, 'Does even/also this kind of thing happen in the world?'

Notes:

qiyaamat : 'Anything extraordinary; a scene of trouble or distress; a great calamity; excess; --adj. & adv. Wonderful; excessive, very great; heavy, grievous, oppressive'. (Platts p.796)

 

ta((ajjub : 'Wondering (at); wonder, astonishment, surprise, amazement; admiration'. (Platts p.326)

 

zamaanah : 'Time, period, duration; season; a long time; an age;... —the world; the heavens; fortune, destiny'. (Platts p.617)

Nazm:

That is, she expressed surprise at this deed of Laila's. And the meaning of her expressing surprise necessarily is that she considered it contrary to shame and modesty [sharm-o-;hayaa]. And from this deed's being considered contrary to modesty and propriety, the meaning is necessarily that she reproached Laila. And from her reproaching Laila it necessarily follows that she herself is prevented by shame and modesty from going to inquire about her lover. In short, in this verse the cause of eloquence [balaa;Gat] is this necessary sequence. The gist is that it's a disaster-- she is prevented by modesty [;hijaab] from even going to inquire about her lover. (110)

== Nazm page 110

Bekhud Mohani:

She was surprised by this because in her opinion this deed is contrary to the glory of belovedness [shaan-e ma((shuuqii] and to shame. In her opinion Laila is blameworthy, and to go to inquire about lovers is contrary to the glory of belovedship.

In this verse one further pleasure is that the kind of amazement that came to the beloved upon hearing about Laila's coming into the desert-- exactly that kind of amazement came to the lover, at the beloved's amazement. (211)

Shadan:

Instead of [merely] sun , now they say sun kar . I also have trouble describing the meaning of qiyaamat hai .... The verse can become clear and straightforward like this:

sunaa majnuu;N ne jab lail;aa kaa aanaa apne .sa;hraa me;N
ta((ajjub se kahaa aisaa bhii hotaa hai zamaane me;N

[when Majnun heard Laila coming into his desert
he said in surprise, 'do such things really happen in the world?'] (281)

FWP:

SETS == DIALOGUE; HUMOR == TRANSLATABLES
DESERT: {3,1}
QIYAMAT: {10,11}

Nazm reads the verse as expressing the beloved's extremely shy, refined, modest disapproval of Laila's wild, shameless behavior-- a well-bred lady doesn't go traipsing off alone into the desert, especially on such a dubious errand.

Bekhud Mohani maintains that the beloved disapproves of Laila's behavior because it's contrary to the proper standards and 'glory of belovedness'. It's unprofessional behavior, so to speak. To take trouble for one's lovers, to concern oneself with them-- what kind of unseemly sentimentality is this? The beloved should be imperious and disdainful. Laila should have known better!

Shadan, who so often rewrites Ghalib's verses to 'clarify' and simplify them, this time rewrites the verse into something all his own (and very problematical of course): he takes the vuh in the second line to refer to Majnun.

The range of interpretation reveals the versatility and evocativeness of one of Ghalib's favorite tools, inshaa))iyah speech, especially in the interrogative and exclamatory.

The real charm of the verse, however, is surely the 'surprise' the beloved shows. Not only does she herself routinely treat her lovers with disdain, not only do all the beloveds she knows of treat their lovers with disdain-- but it comes as a surprise to her that any other course of action is even conceivable. When she hears of Laila's loving behavior toward Majnun, she literally can't wrap her mind around it; she exclaims in sheer astonishment at such incomprehensible carryings-on. How perfectly expressed, and how genuinely funny! (Her expression of surprise is idiomatic rather than literal, so I've translated the effect of it.) For another example of her radical unawareness of any such behavior, see {162,8}.

The lover's reaction to her surprise is expressed in the cleverly versatile exclamation qiyaamat hai -- literally, it's a Doomsday! This can convey amazement, wonder, horror, appalledness, shock. All of which are appropriate to his hearing the beloved's exclamation-- and at once grasping the implications for his own future prospects.