Ghazal 111, Verse 10


vuh nigaahe;N kyuu;N hu))ii jaatii hai;N yaa rab dil ke paar
jo mirii kotaahii-e qismat se mizhgaa;N ho ga))ii;N

1) why do those glances, oh Lord, keep going through/beyond the heart?
2) [those glances] which, through my shortfall of fortune, became eyelashes


paar : '(gov. gen. with - ke , if the postp. is expressed), Further bank, or opposite shore or side (of a river, lake, &c.); the other side, concluding bound; the end or limit of anything, termination, conclusion; utmost limit or extent or reach; bottom, innermost depth, inmost recess; ... —over, across, on or to the other or further side, through, beyond'. (Platts p.216)


kotaahii : 'Smallness, shortness; brevity, deficiency, failure... narrowness.... kotaahii karnaa (me;N), To fail, fall short (of)'. (Platts p.858


By the glances becoming eyelashes is meant that through shame and modesty they are not lifted up; rather, like eyelashes, they remain constantly bowed downwards. (152)


By 'becoming eyelashes' is meant that her glances in my direction are short/brief to such an extent that it's as if they'd become eyelashes. But despite this shortness, they still go through/beyond the heart. (119)

== Nazm page 119

Bekhud Mohani:

Oh Provider, those glances that because of my ill-fortune have become eyelashes-- that is, that reach only up to the screen of the eyelashes, or that view me only in sidelong glances, that never shamelessly fall on me-- why do they overpower the heart? Why do fragments of my heart fly all around? The gist is that she never looked fully at me, the way she looks at others; but still, my heart is in this state! If she had ever looked me in the eye, then what state would the heart be in? Mirza Dagh says,

sharm se aa;Nkh milaate nahii;N dekhaa un ko
ho ga))ii;N paar kaleje ke nigaahe;N kyuu;Nkar

[out of shame, she was unable to meet my eyes
how did her glances reach beyond the liver?] (222)


In surprise he asks, those glances that, because of the shortness of my fortune, have out of shame turned into eyelashes and remained so-- despite so much smallness and shortness, how are they reaching beyond my heart? (211)


By a 'small fortune' is meant that its reach was limited... The point is that the fortune was so small that her glances turned into eyelashes. That is, whereas ordinarily glances are used (that is, glances are sent out from the eye), there the beloved used eyelashes....

The intent of the glances' becoming eyelashes is that the glances retained no existence at all. A glance emerges from the eye. The quality of a glance is length. But my fortune is so small ('non-reaching' [naa-rasaa]) that in proportion to it the beloved's glance too remained small-- so small that it didn't leave the eye. In its place only the action of eyelashes came into play. That is, when she turned her face toward me, then she didn't see me, I received only the attention of her eyelashes, not her glances.

Ghalib has taken this theme from Mir [M{549,6}]:

ba;Rhtii;N nahii;N palak se taa ham talak bhii pahu;Nche;N
phirtii hai;N vuh nigaahe;N palko;N ke saa))e saa))e

[they do not advance from the eyelashes, so that they would reach to us too
those glances wander in the shade of the eyelashes] (1989: 175-76) [2006: 197-98]

[See also his discussion of Mir's similar verse M{1548,9}.]


ARCHERY: {6,2}
GAZE: {10,12}

This verse is founded on the kind of wordplay that, very enjoyably, is also meaning-play. Because the lover's fortune falls short, its deficiencies cause her glances too to fall short. They remain so tiny and averted that they are (like) eyelashes.

That being so, then, why is their penetrating power, their flight, so long? Eyelashes are like small arrows, shot from the bow of the eyebrow-- if the eyes are lowered, the eyelash-arrows will even be shot at a very unpromising downward angle. How do they travel so far, and so powerfully, as to go completely through my heart, or even overshoot it and end up beyond it?

Of course, when we imagine the eyelashes as arrows, an awkward side-effect is apparent: if the beloved shot very many of them, she'd end up with no eyelashes, or maybe only some stray ones here and there, or a few little runty ones not fit for shooting. And there's also the bizarre vision of numerous tiny little eyelashes flying through the air and penetrating the lover's heart. But of course, the lover's own eyelashes can just as well become numerous tiny pens with blood for ink, as in {233,6}; and the beloved's eyelashes can also dine festively on liver-fragments, as in {233,2}. So there's really no reason to start being too literal-minded about it. But needless to say, no such problems of excessive physicality exist in the case of glances; it seems clear that the idea of glances as arrows is the primary one, and that of eyelashes as arrows is a secondary spin-off from it.

And then, how does the lover feel about these miraculous, paradoxical, short-and-long arrow-glances? He invokes the Lord, thus showing a strong degree of emotion, but his utterance is a question-- more of Ghalib's famous inshaa))iyah speech. There are at least two possible feeling-tones for his question. The lover might marvel delightedly at the arrows' deadliness, since despite his ill-fortune, and against all odds, he's not missing out on the mysteriously potent experience of passion.

Or alternatively, the lover might ruefully exclaim at his talent for ending up with the worst of all worlds: he doesn't get a single real glance from the beloved's beautiful eyes, and yet his heart is repeatedly lacerated by deadly, impossible arrows-- or, even worse, overshot by them as they sail past it and land uselessly somewhere on the far side. (Could it even be that the beloved is aiming them at someone else?)