Ghazal 123, Verse 12x


abr rotaa hai kih bazm-e :tarab aamaadah karo
barq ha;Nstii hai kih fur.sat ko))ii dam hai ham ko

1) the cloud weeps: 'Prepare a joyous gathering!'
2) the lightning smiles/laughs: 'We have the interval/leisure of some moments/breaths!


:tarab : 'Emotion, joyous excitement, joy, mirth, cheerfulness, hilarity'. (Platts p.752)


ha;Nsnaa : 'To laugh, to smile; to be merry; to jest, joke, make fun'. (Platts p.1238)


fur.sat : 'A time, opportunity, occasion; freedom (from), leisure; convenience; relief, recovery; respite, reprieve; rest, ease'. (Platts p.779)

Gyan Chand:

The raining-down of clouds has the similitude of weeping, and the cause of the weeping is restlessness: there is the wish for a gathering of happiness. The way a child weeps in order to cause some desire to be fulfilled, in the same way the clouds are weeping and insisting. The flash of lightning has the similitude of smiling/laughing, but it is momentary. The lightning flashes as if it is smiling/laughing at the clouds' request: 'How small is the interval of life! How would a gathering be able to be arranged in an instant?!'

== Gyan Chand, p. 492



For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}. Ghalib chose this verse for inclusion in Gul-e ra'na (c.1828).

The simile of the rain as tears, and thus of the rainclouds as weeping, is obvious. That of lightning as smiling or laughing (since ha;Nsnaa has both meanings) is based on the flash of brilliant white teeth as they are suddenly visible in a smile or laugh. (And of course, the sight of the beloved's teeth dazzles the lover's eyes as lightning does.)

These brilliant white teeth should also be imagined as flashing against a suitably dramatic background of blackened gums, since the use of missii ('a powder composed of yellow myrobalan, gall-nut, iron-filings, vitriol, &c., used for tingeing the teeth of a black colour', Platts p.1036) was very common in Ghalib's world. Admirers of Umra'o Jan may remember that the ceremony through which a :tavaa))if formally entered the profession was called missii lagaanaa . For more on missii , see {417x,2}.

Compare {212,1}, another verse involving a smile/laugh and a show of teeth.