Ghazal 120, Verse 10


nah lu;Ttaa din ko to kab raat ko yuu;N be-;xabar sotaa
rahaa kha;Tkaa nah chorii kaa du((aa detaa huu;N rahzan ko

1) if I hadn’t been looted in the day, how/when would I have slept carelessly/heedlessly like this at night?
2) there remained no alarm/anxiety/noise of theft-- I bless the highway-robber!


kha;Tkaa : 'Knock, rap, rattling sound or noise, clatter; sound of footsteps;... misgiving, doubt, suspicion, suspense; perturbation, anxiety, care, concern; apprehension, fear, dread'. (Platts p.871)


That is, worldly relationships are not free of trouble and anxiety/suspicion. Separation from them is unpleasant, but in this alone lies peace. (129)

== Nazm page 129

Bekhud Mohani:

The words 'highway-robber' [rahzan] and 'thief' [chor] are meaningful. The highway-robber was that beloved who snatched the heart by violence. The thief, by comparison, is another beloved who can attract people to herself by trickery. (244)


Compare {154,4}. (251, 288)


A number of commentators have declared this to be the high point of the ghazal.... There's no doubt that this verse's simplicity and pithiness are such, and its excellence in trying to rejoice in one's own harm, and proving that harm is a benefit, make this verse worthy of being counted among the best verses of Persian and Urdu....

First, the speaker was looted by a highway-robber while on the road. Stripped and possession-less, the speaker arrives at some halting-place or resting-place. If he had had goods and property, then out of fear of theft he wouldn't have been able to sleep. Now when he's without all that wealth and property, he has no fear. What does he even have, concern for which would keep him awaye? But to sleep peacefully because goods and property have been looted is only innocence and ignorance of the outcome. Because the property is gone, but life remains. It's possible that en route to the next halting-place, he might be forced to wash his hands of his life as well. This confidence is premature, and this peaceful sleep is the sleep of ignorance. This innocence of the speaker lifts the verse to the extreme level of dramatic irony [;Draamaa))ii :tanz].... With regard to the freshness of its theme, this verse is a superb sample of theme-creation; and with regard to the depth of its meaning, it's a peerless example of meaning-creation.... In short, it's hardly a verse-- it's a miracle. (1989: 221-23) [2006: 244-45]

[See also his comments on Mir's M{721,8}.]


NIGHT/DAY: {1,2}

I want to systematize and extend some of the points that Faruqi makes in his analysis (not all of which I've translated). The verse evokes a series of stark contrasts: property and propertylessness; highway-robbery and theft; day and night (in general); today and tonight (in particular); traveling and halting; looting and blessing. Depending on how we arrange our emphases, here are some of the possibilities:

=it's fortunate that my property is already gone, because otherwise, how could I avoid feeling anxious about it? (property vs. propertylessness)

=it was fortunate that I was looted by a highway-robber, because otherwise, how could I have escaped the fear of a thief? (overt highway-robber vs. furtive thief)

=it was fortunate that I was looted in the day, because otherwise, with so much anxiety about theft, when would I ever have been able to sleep peacefully at night? (day vs. night)

=it was fortunate that I was looted today and the whole thing is over with, because otherwise, how would I have been able to sleep peacefully like this tonight? (today vs. tonight)

=it was fortunate that I was looted on the road, because otherwise, when would I have escaped from fear and anxiety while I was in a dwelling? (traveling vs. halting)

=it was a blessing that I was looted, so in return I send my blessing to the looter (looting vs. blessing)

Isn't this a wonderfully compressed, complex, truly Ghalibian set of variations? And who's to rule any of them out? One's mind is bound to focus first on one, then on another, then on another, on around and back, with no closure anywhere to be found.

The wordplay is also excellent, as Faruqi points out: the punning double meaning of kha;Tkaa as both 'anxiety' and the literal 'knock' on the door, evoking the alarm and fear of theft that might come to someone dwelling in a house; and of course be-;xabar to mean both 'carelessly, heedlessly' and 'ignorantly, without awareness' (of other vulnerabilities).

For another perspective on the highway-robber and the looted goods, consider {64,3}.

And for a more general view, compare Mir's M{1577,4}. Mir also offers an entirely opposite perspective on the same situation, in M{11,3}.