Ghazal 110, Verse 3

{110,3}

yaa rab zamaanah mujh ko mi;Taataa hai kisliye
lau;h-e jahaa;N pah ;harf-e mukarrar nahii;N huu;N mai;N

1) oh Lord, why does {the age / time / fate} erase me?
2) on the tablet of the world I am not a 'repeated letter'

Notes:

zamaanah : 'Time, period, duration; season; a long time; an age;... —the world; the heavens; fortune, destiny'. (Platts p.617)

Nazm:

The theme is that he has given to his own erasure the simile of a mistaken letter. But if he had said 'the age erases me like a mistaken letter', then it wouldn't have been as eloquent [balii;G] as it is now. And the reason for eloquence is intensity of meaning; that is, now the meanings are being further increased: since I am not a 'repeated letter', there's no other reason for my erasure. Still, the age is erasing me. From this verse can be understood what are the means of giving rise to intensity of meaning from one single excellently-bestowed simile, and then, to what extent intensity of meaning increases eloquence. (115)

== Nazm page 115

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, for what reason does the age erase me? Besides the fact that I'm not a 'repeated letter', there's no other reason adduced for my erasure. It's considered necessary to erase a 'repeated letter'; I am not that. (165)

Bekhud Mohani:

;harf-e mukarrar: that letter that in error would be written two times, and would be scraped off.... That is, I'm not something to be erased. In the world there's great necessity for me, and there's also the point that up till now no one like me has appeared. I am not like anyone else. So I ought to have received respect. Why are the people of the world bent on erasing me? (217)

FWP:

SETS == MUSHAIRAH
WRITING: {7,3}

A lovely, classic 'mushairah verse'. The first line sounds broad, vague, and conventional: the image of time 'erasing' us is as established in Urdu as it is in English. Under mushairah performance conditions, we have to wait for a suspense-building interval until we're allowed to hear the second line.

Then when we do get to hear it, in proper mushairah-verse style we have to wait for the zinger until the last possible moment. The phrase 'repeated letter' [;harf-e mukarrar] is positioned as close to the end as it can be. And, also in classic mushairah-verse style, we 'get it' with a sudden burst of revelation and pleasure-- and once we've gotten it, there's nothing more there to 'get'; it's a verse that doesn't demand further study or long reflection.

A 'repeated letter' is, as the commentators make clear, one that's accidently written twice. It's a common error in calligraphy, and when it's discovered, the obvious thing to do is to erase the undesired duplicate letter. But I, the speaker, can claim to be a unique letter on the tablet of the 'the age / time / fate'-- no 'letter' like me precedes me, nor will another such 'letter' ever be born. So why am I erased? Obviously, erasing me represents a real loss of data from the tablet of the world, and shouldn't be done! Yet of course this erasure is ineluctably going to happen; the verb tense makes its happening habitual and irresistible [mi;Taataa hai]. Appealing to the Lord is not a real remedy, but merely a gesture of protest and unreconciledness. We may be doomed, but we reject the injustice of our fate.

This, and the rest of the verses in this ghazal ({110,3-7}) right up until the very different closing-verse, seem clearly to be addressed to a divine beloved rather than a human one. For other such examples, see {20,10}.