Ghazal 107, Verse 7


tum un ke va((de kaa ;zikr un se kyuu;N karo ;Gaalib
yih kyaa kih tum kaho aur vuh kahe;N kih yaad nahii;N

1) why would you make mention to her of her promise, Ghalib?

2a) [do you want] this: that you would say [it], and she would say, 'I don't remember'?
2b) what is [all] this-- that you would say [it], and that she would say 'I don't remember'!



The beloved's promise-breaking and rejection of vows, which people always recount in one way or another-- in this verse we would be given pause, at what freshness and vividness he has given to this ancient theme. The meaning is that when I remind her of her promise, she says, 'I don't remember'. But he's presented that meaning from the tongue of a fault-finder-- that is, rejecting the aspect of information-giving [;xabar], he's shaped this theme in the mold of inshaa . (112)

== Nazm page 112

Bekhud Dihlavi:

The pleasure of this verse is rapturous, it can't be described. The occasion required that the first line should take on the aspect of complaint. And Mirza Sahib has expressed it in a Preacher-like way, and the reason is that the second line is saying, 'You'll tell her that she went back on her promise to you, and she'll say that you're a liar and she doesn't remember the promise. There will be a quarrel between you two; the result of the quarrel will be sorrow; and from sorrow, difficulties will befall the lover's life. Rather than this, it's better if you don't even mention her forgotten promise.' (163)

Bekhud Mohani:

What an adorable style of expression it is! Ardor says, remind her of her promise! Then the lover himself says, what will be the result? As usual, she'll say, 'I don't remember-- when did I make a promise?'. (215)


SPEAKING: {14,4}
VOWS: {20,2}

Nazm is the only commentator who makes explicit what the others refer to more obliquely: the charm of this verse is its clever bait-and-switch technique. It presents a very conventional first line that causes us to expect an equally well-worn kind of second line: 'she's so cruel' or 'she's so faithless' or 'I'm so oppressed by her'. In any case, we expect the complaint of a victim. But of course, in proper mushairah style, we have to wait, for a suspense-building time, to hear the second line.

And when we do, the pleasure of it is, as the commentators note, the tone-- which itself is generated both by inshaa))iyah speech (as Nazm points out), and by the use of a speaker who is scolding or exhorting the lover. Whether this voice belongs to some outsider, or to the lover who is arguing with himself, is not important. The important thing is that the voice is berating the lover. Rather than receiving sympathy (even if only from himself) as a victim, the lover is being exhorted not to be a troublemaker, not to pester the beloved in vain, not to make a vulgar, undignified, and (of course) useless fuss.

The idiomatic versatility of yih kyaa kih is hard to capture in English. Literally, 'that such and such would happen-- what is this?!' is probably as close as we can get. Meaning, what's the point of it; what's the good of it; how can it be justified? The speaker might be anticipating a hypothetical scene that he knows would take place if he spoke; or he might be questioning the value of repeated such scenes-- scenes that constantly (and always futilely) do take place, and that now should be renounced.