Ghazal 108, Verse 13x


kis kaa dil zulf se bhaagaa kih asad
dast-e shaanah bah qa.zaa baa;Ndhte hai;N

1) whose heart fled from curls-- for, Asad,
2) we/they versify/'bind' the 'hand'/teeth of the comb by way of 'destiny/fate/death'


shaanah : 'A comb; a (cock's) comb, a crest'. (Platts p.719)


qa.zaa : 'Divine decree, predestination; fate, destiny; fatality; death; decree, mandate, judgment, order, charge, edict; office, or sentence (of a judge)'. (Platts p.792)

Gyan Chand:

By 'hand of the comb' is meant the teeth on both sides of the comb. Consider the middle of the comb to be its waist, as if the comb's two hands have been tied/bound to its waist. To bind the hands behind is a sign of captivity. What crime did the comb commit, that it is being given this punishment? Did it, at the time of the arranging of the beloved's curls, did it cause some heart to fall out, and it fled-- the punishment for which the comb is enduring? (270)


CURLS: {14,6}

Raza p. 234. S. R. Faruqi's choices. This verse is from a different, unpublished, ham-:tar;h ghazal from the same year, and is included for comparison. In the unpublished ghazal, this was the sixth and last verse.

On the literary use of baa;Ndhnaa as 'to versify', see {108,1}.

I don't agree with Gyan Chand's reading; the verse isn't about the guilt or punishment of the comb, but about the comb's role as an agent of fate or death.

The lover considers it impossible that anyone's heart might have fled from the bondage of the beloved's chain-like curls-- most especially his. Why, just the opposite in fact! To flee would be not only un-loverlike, but also impossible: the coming of the comb is as inescapable and inevitable as the coming of death and fate.

The lover's heart is so snugly and willingly confined and enmeshed within the curls that the comb that straightens out the curls, and brings them into some sort of order or restraint, is perceived by the lover as an agent of death or fate. Because it's death to the lover's heart to be combed out of the beloved's hair? Because since the heart refuses to move from the curls, the deadly teeth of the comb will slice it into pieces? Because the lover's heart can't bear to see the beloved's adorably wayward curls being straightened out by the cruel comb? In any case, the result is that the heart, a helpless captive of the curls, meets its fate at the 'hands' of the comb.

The heart may be a helpless captive, but the poet is not; for it's the poet who himself deliberately versifies or 'binds' the comb-teeth as 'death/fate'. Would the comb-teeth have such a deadly, cosmic role, if the poet didn't confer it upon them in his verse? Perhaps not. For the reason that no one flees from the curls isn't because the comb-teeth are as intrinsically un-fleeable as death/fate. Rather, it's that the poets versify the comb-teeth in the guise of death/fate. Perhaps they're just recognizing an objective reality-- but the ghazal world being what it is, it's at least as likely that they're creating a reality of their own.

Just for pleasure, here are two nineteenth-century Indian combs; one has a rock-crystal handle and a chain for wearing around the neck, and the other contains a small built-in perfume vial.