Ghazal 106, Verse 1

{106,1}*

yih ham jo hijr me;N diivaar-o-dar ko dekhte hai;N
kabhii .sabaa ko kabhii naamah-bar ko dekhte hai;N

1) in separation {when / since/ in that} we {see / look at} these walls and doors,
2) sometimes we {see / look at} the breeze, sometimes the Messenger

Notes:

Nazm:

The breeze comes and goes everywhere, and has access everywhere without hindrance. For this reason, among poets the messenger-ship of the breeze is famous; there's no better Messenger than the breeze. The meaning is that we are waiting: when will the Messenger appear in the doorway, and when will the breeze blow in? (110)

== Nazm page 110

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, in separation we have to wait for the Messenger. Perhaps some much-desired message will come from her, or an answer to our message. By looking at the wall the meaning is that perhaps the breeze will come, bringing a message, and it will come through the [crevices in the] wall. And by looking at the door the meaning is that if the Messenger comes, bearing a reply, then he'll come through the door. (161)

Bekhud Mohani:

In separation from the beloved, when our gaze time after time is lifted toward the walls and doors, the reason is so that we would see when the breeze comes, and when the Messenger comes. (212)

FWP:

SETS == A,B; GENERATORS

Walls and doors are at once barriers (when we look at them we can't see any further) and points of access (the breeze and the Messenger would come through the door, the breeze perhaps through crevices in walls as well). When we look at walls and doors, we want instead to look through and beyond them. This is complex in itself, but more layers of possibility are built into the very grammar of seeing. The difference we make in English between 'look at' and 'see' can't be expressed in Urdu (any more than can 'listen' and 'hear'). So dekhnaa can be taken either way. And there's also the sense of 'see' to convey 'see as' ('when I look at you, I see Doomsday').

So in short, it's far from clear-- as far from clear as Ghalib can possibly make it, in fact-- what is being looked at, and what is being seen, and what is being seen as what. Essentially, we 'see' A and B, C, D. Here are some of the possibilities:

=we look at a door and see it as the entry point for a Messenger
=we look at a door and see it as a Messenger (since we're desperate and half-mad)
=we look at walls and see them as the entry point for the breeze
=we look at walls and see them, because of their crevice-work, as the breeze itself (since we're desperate and half-mad)
=we look at the breeze, and see it as a Messenger
=we look at the Messenger, and see him as the breeze (which is also a messenger)
=we look at the breeze, and see it in visible form as a wall (with crevice-work through which messages can come)
=we look at the Messenger, and see him as a door (providing access to the beloved)

And so on, into increasingly bizarre possibilities. Of course this is a somewhat insane degree of mutability, but then, the lover 'in separation' [hijr me;N] is more than a little insane himself. And it's a clever touch for the verse to provide both a 'normal' meaning (such as the commentators explain), and a wild breakdown of meaning into hallucinatory confusion (such as the grammar of the verse undeniably facilitates).

On the flexibility of jo , see {12,2}.

On the nature of crevice-work in walls, see {64,4}.

For the ultimate 'doors and walls' ghazal, see {58}.