Ghazal 120, Verse 2


nahii;N gar ham-damii aasaa;N nah ho yih rashk kyaa kam hai
nah dii hotii ;xudaa yaa aarzuu-e dost dushman ko

1a) if familiarity/intimacy is not easy, then let it not be; is this envy/jealousy less [in difficulty]?!
1b) if familiarity/intimacy is not easy, then let it not be; this envy/jealousy is hardly a small thing!

2) if only you hadn't given, oh Lord, a longing for the friend-- to the enemy!


ham-damii : 'Intimate friendship, familiarity'. (Platts p.1234)


aarzuu : 'Wish, desire, longing, eagerness; hope; trust; expectation; intention, purpose, object, design. inclination, affection, love'. (Platts p.40)


That is, although it's difficult for the enemy to be my companion [ham-sar], or the beloved's intimate companion [ham-dam], is the envy/jealousy any the less for me? Since he too longs for the friend. (128)

== Nazm page 128

Bekhud Mohani:

Although it's difficult for the Rival to be my peer in passion, or to become an informal friend [dost] and confidant of the beloved's, still I am slain by envy/jealousy, for the Rival too loves the one whom I love. (241-42)


The words of the verse are so easy that at first glance one might be deceived into thinking it isn't even a verse of Ghalib's. But it has, besides many excellences of meaning, a small verbal cleverness as well. By putting dost before [the rhyme-word] dushman , Ghalib has created a new atmosphere ( dost dushman ko ).

If we turn our gaze to the meaning, then several questions arise: For whom is familiarity not easy? What is meant by yih rashk kyaa kam hai ? Why has the Lord been made responsible for giving the enemy a longing for the friend?....

Please look at another aspect: yih rashk kyaa kam hai can also mean 'this envy/jealousy itself is enough'. That is, if familiarity/intimacy is not easy, then so be it; but this envy/jealousy is enough for us to die over: that our envy too longs for the one whom we are dying for. To die is destined in any case. If we had died of despair, that would have been one thing; now the situation is that we're dying of envy/jealousy.

It's also possible that 'enemy' can be taken to mean 'beloved'. That is, the beloved too now longs to have some beloved. Now the envy/jealousy is over this person who will be the beloved's beloved. Obviously, who will be a greater Rival than the one of whom the beloved herself would be a lover? In one other place as well Ghalib has depicted the beloved as a lover: {105,1}. To call the beloved an enemy is also part of poetic custom. Ghalib's own verse is: {4,3}....

If one reflects on the point that the Lord has put in the heart of the enemy (Rival or beloved) the longing for a beloved, then the interpretation also emerges that all this is the marvelous doing of the Divine workshop and the power of God, that people are enmeshed in passion and die of passion or envy/jealousy.

== (1989: 219-20) [2006: 242-43]



Faruqi's commentary makes the important points. I especially endorse his citing of {4,3} as a provocative example of how the friend/enemy dichotomy can be played with. The speaker may after all be a 'friend' of one or more of his Rivals (since they may originally have been friends or confidants of his, as in {43,1}). And the beloved is certainly his 'friend' in some (aspirational) sense. Then to complete the triangle, the beloved and the Rival may be 'friends' in some sense as well (at least in the speaker's nightmares).

So the verse goes out of its way, through both wordplay and meaning-play, to create a kind of Escher-like perpetual motion machine: who is friends with whom, and who is jealous of whom, and why exactly? As so often, we're left to decide for ourselves.

For more on the complexities of rashk , see {53,4}.

For another such multivalent use of kyaa kam hai , see {14,4}.