Ghazal 112, Verse 5


shoriidagii ke haath se hai sar vabaal-e dosh
.sa;hraa me;N ai ;xudaa ko))ii diivaar bhii nahii;N

1) at the hands of derangement/madness, the head is a burden to the shoulders
2) in the desert, oh Lord, there's not even any wall?!


shoriidagii : 'Derangement, distractedness, madness (from love); love, insane passion'. (Platts p.736)


vabaal : 'Unwholesome; burdensome; painful, vexatious; — s.m. An unhealthy climate or atmosphere; — anything painful or distressing; bane, pest, plague'. (Platts p.1178)


If there were a wall, then he would smash his head open and find liberation from this burden. (121)

== Nazm page 121

Bekhud Mohani:

From the turmoil of madness, the head is a burden to the body. My God, what shall I do? In the wilderness there's no wall of the beloved, such that I would have smashed my head against it and given up my life. That is, there's pleasure in dying by smashing the head against that door. (226)


Compare {166,5}. (289)


In this verse are two points to which people have not paid attention. One is that in the first line there's an affinity among 'hand', 'head', and 'shoulder'. The second point is that the usual understanding of the verse is devoid of pleasure [lu:tf se ((aarii]: 'My head is a burden to my shoulders-- if only there were in the desert some wall, then I would smash my head open!'. In addition, if this is the interpretation, then coming into the desert by reason of an excess of madness becomes meaningless. The madness is so much that the head is a burden to the shoulders. It's a matter of smashing it. But if that's how things were, then what's the point of leaving home and coming into the desert? In the house there are walls upon walls; he could have smashed his head right there.... There's no need for restrictions about desert or walls: {126,4}.

Accordingly, the emotion of the second line is not longing, but surprise and distractedness: 'What! In the desert there are no walls at all! Oh Lord, what kind of a desert is this? Ugh! There's no wall at all here, where would I smash my head?'. Thus the verse suggests the extreme stage of madness-- that in the desert, where there's no possibility of a wall, surprise and/or complaint is being expressed at there being no walls. As if someone would say, 'Oh Lord, in the sea there's nothing but water! There's no dry land-- where can I build a house?'. The theme of the verse is not the smashing open of the head; rather, it's that level of madness in which there's no longer any distinction made between the expected and unexpected, the accustomed and the unaccustomed, the logical and the illogical. If the object were to smash open his head, then to come into the desert was useless. He came into the desert because now his madness was complete.

== (1989: 184-85) [2006: 206-07]


DESERT: {3,1}
MADNESS: {14,3}

Faruqi cites two points neglected by the commentators: the first involves wordplay and verbal affinity; the second involves the commentators' settling for a prosaic meaning that is 'devoid of pleasure'; both kinds of neglect are all too familiar. Faruqi's suggestion that the second line be read with 'not longing, but surprise and distractedness' does indeed give more charm, complexity, and liveliness to the verse. The lover might even be asking a kind of shocked question.

For other verses featuring wordplay, a head filled with shor , and the search for a wall, see {15,5} and {166,5}.