Ghazal 108, Verse 3


terii fur.sat ke muqaabil ai ((umr
barq ko paa bah ;hinaa baa;Ndhte hai;N

1) compared to your leisure, oh Lifetime
2) we/they versify/'bind' lightning as a hennaed foot


muqaabil : 'Fronting, confronting; opposing, contending; opposite; --comparing; collating; --corresponding, matching; resembling, like; --in opposition (to, - ke ); in front (of), over against; face to face (with), in the presence (of); --in comparison (with)'. (Platts p.1053)


That is, if you compare the length of a lifetime with something, then it's as if henna has been applied to the feet of lightning. That is, in its coming and going the lifetime is somewhat greater in speed than lightning. (112)

== Nazm page 112

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, oh Lifetime, in comparison to your swiftness of movement, we versify lightning as a hennaed foot. A hennaed foot is a metaphor for being unable to walk. (163)

Bekhud Mohani:

That is, the lifetime passes faster than lightning. And it's clear because lightning sometimes flashes, sometimes vanishes. But the lifetime never by any chance pauses for a moment. (215)


HENNA: {18,4}

As Bekhud Dihlavi makes clear, a hennaed foot is a slowed-down foot. While the elaborate henna pattern is drying, the owner of the feet can't walk at all without ruining all that work. And even after it's dried, the owner seeks to keep the design unmarred and show it off, since hennaed feet are for festive occasions. So the owner of the feet walks more fastidiously and delicately than usual, which means more slowly. (For more on henna, see {18,4}.)

The first line could well prepare us for the obvious 'a lifetime is as fast as a lightning-flash.' But that turns out not to be the case at all. For it turns out that a lifetime is not 'as fast' as lightning. It's so much faster that compared to a lifetime, lightning itself is constructed or depicted-- is 'versified', incorporated into poetic diction-- as a hennaed foot. (For more on this use of baa;Ndhnaa , see {108,1}.) Lightning itself-- the unimaginably swift, darting, forceful, instantaneous-- is no better than a halting, careful, fastidiously placed foot, compared to the pace of the Lifetime.

For another use of a hennaed foot, see {108,7}.

And then-- just look at the radical shift of thought in the next verse, {108,4}.