Ghazal 109, Verse 8x


adab ne sau;Npii hame;N surmah-saa))ii-e ;hairat
zabaan-e bastah-o-chashm-e kushaadah rakhte hai;N

1) courtesy consigned/confided to us the collyrium-applying of amazement
2) we keep a closed/'bound' tongue and an 'opened'/free eye


adab : 'Discipline, training; deportment; good breeding; good manners, politeness, courtesy, urbanity; etiquette; polite literature'. (Platts p.31)


sau;Npnaa : 'To deliver over, to hand or make over, to consign, give, intrust (to), deposit (with); to give in charge, to commit; to give up, resign, surrender, cede'. (Platts p.701)


saa))ii : 'Rubbing; polishing; diffusing (used as last member of comp.)'. (Platts p.631)


bastah : 'Bound, shut, closed, fastened, folded up; frozen, congealed'. (Platts p.155)


kushaadah : 'Opened, uncovered, disclosed, discovered, detected, revealed, expanded, spread out, displayed, drawn forth; taken, subjected, subdued; open, spacious, wide, ample, capacious, extensive; loose, lax; free, frank, cheerful, glad, happy; serene, clear'. (Platts p.835)

Gyan Chand:

surmah-saa))ii = The literal meaning is to smooth on collyrium, to apply collyrium. Since from eating collyrium the voice gradually goes away, here the implied meaning is that of silence. zabaan-e bastah = a closed tongue/mouth; that is, to say nothing.

Courtesy has taught us that whatever we would see, despite/besides being amazed at it, we would remain silent. Our tongue/mouth is closed, but our eyes are open-- that is, we are alert and aware. Only because of courtesy are we silent.

== Gyan Chand, p. 539


EYES {3,1}

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

On the special qualities of collyrium, see {44,1}. One of these qualities in the ghazal world is to be a natural enemy of the voice. Thus the 'collyrium-applying of astonishment' is very suitably expressed by the combination of a closed mouth and wide open eyes. For someone who was applying collyrium around his or her eyes would naturally open them wide, to assure proper application-- and also to see clearly in a mirror how the delicate work was progressing.

The amazement represented by ;hairat is stronger than the English 'surprise'-- it's more like a 'stupefaction' that keeps one helplessly frozen in place; on this see {51,9x}.

But in this case, the verse makes it clear that the real source of the speaker's behavior isn't 'amazement' at all, but 'courtesy, good manners' (see the definition above). His sense of courtesy or propriety has laid on him, or 'consigned' to him, the duty of behaving in the 'collyrium-applying' style that is a sign of amazement; apparently this duty consists of keeping his mouth shut and his eyes open. For a discussion of the related category of personal style and dignity [va.z((a], see {115,7}.

In other words, because he's polite he makes a show of astonishment (and humility?). But does he really feel any such emotion? Who's to say? As usual, Ghalib leaves his readers to fend for themselves. After all, he's pointed out in {48,9} that in any case we should always keep our eyes open.