Ghazal 121, Verse 4


marham kii just-juu me;N phiraa huu;N jo duur duur
tan se sivaa figaar hai;N is ;xastah-tan ke paa;Nv

1) {since / in that} in search of salve/ointment I've wandered far distances
2) more than the body, the feet of this wounded-bodied one are wounded/sore


marham : 'Soft plaster, dressing (for wounds), ointment, salve'. (Platts p.1027)


sivaa : 'Besides, other than, over and above, further than... ;— adj. Additional, more; better'. (Platts p.690)


figaar : 'Wounded, sore, galled; crippled; lame'. (Platts p.783)


;xastah : 'Wounded, hurt; broken; infirm; sick, sorrowful; —fragile'. (Platts p.490)


In this verse, and in the verse before it, the meaning is that the thing he flees from, confronts him; and the disaster for which he seeks a remedy is the very one in which he becomes ensnared. (130)

== Nazm page 130

Bekhud Mohani:

In the search of salve there was more trouble than from the wound itself. That is, in attempting to achieve union with the beloved he endured such suffering that it was even greater than the longing for union. (246)


The commentators' opinion that in this verse is the same idea as in the verse before [{121,3}], is incorrect. The previous verse, as has been made clear, is a pleasantry or witticism or humorous sarcasm about the 'tyranny-enjoyment' [sitam-:zariifii] of fate, and is a metaphor in its entirety. In the present verse there's not any 'tyranny-enjoyment' of fate, but rather a memoir [ta;zkirah] of its tyranny....

I did so much searching, so much running around, that my feet became more wounded than the wound in my body. From this two conclusions emerge: (1) the attempt at a cure created a disease that was worse than the original disease; (2) now my feet have become useless, so that it's no longer possible for me even to run around in search of salve....

In this way this is a verse in Ghalib's special style-- that is, one of paradox. The attempt at a cure creates a disease that is itself incurable.... On the theme of the powerlessness of contrivance when confronted by fate, and mankind's helplessness and complete lack of recourse, this is an incomparable verse. Instead of directly calling the body 'wounded', he has called himself 'wounded-bodied'; such a style is called 'implicational' [kinaayaatii].

== (1989: 226-27) [2006: 248-49]



This verse shares the complex, clear-sighted, even wryly amused tone of {121,3}; Nazm rightly points out their similarity. But Faruqi also analyzes the differences.

It's a kind of 'catch-22' verse. If you're wounded, you need to find a salve or ointment. But if you look for a salve, the (vain) search itself aggravates your wounds.

But the verse is also even beyond a catch-22 situation, because there's no assurance that the salve even exists. After all, the speaker has wandered so far and long looking for it that he's ruined his feet. He'll never find it: now he's not only 'wounded-bodied', but also foot-wrecked and unable to pursue his search.

In any case, the verse offers us not the smallest glimmer of hope that he would ever have found it. A very bleak report on a quest not only ruinous, but perhaps entirely futile too. I imagine it as spoken in an entirely plain, matter-of-fact tone of voice-- as a clinical report from someone too exhausted, and too close to despair, to go in for dramatic effects.