Ghazal 126, Verse 6


yih kah sakte ho ham dil me;N nahii;N hai;N par yih batlaa))o
kih jab dil me;N tumhii;N tum ho to aa;Nkho;N se nihaa;N kyuu;N ho

1a) you can say 'we are not in the heart'-- but tell [me] this
1b) you can say 'are we not in the heart?'-- but tell [me] this

2) when only/emphatically you yourself are in the heart, then why are you hidden from the eyes?



In this verse the addressee is the True Beloved.

==Urdu text: Yadgar-e Ghalib, p. 154


In the first line is a negative rhetorical question [istifhaam-e inkaarii]-- that is, you cannot say 'we are not in the heart'. (137)

== Nazm page 137

Bekhud Mohani:

You cannot say that you don't dwell in my heart-- that is, you are in the heart. When things are such, then why is there concealment from the eyes? That is, why concealment from the lover?

[Or:] If you would say, 'I am not in the heart', then all right, I can say nothing. But when no one but you is in the heart, then why the concealment? (256)


First of all, please notice that there's parallelism in the whole verse. That is, all eight of the eight metrical feet [rukn] end where words end.... Parallelism is a kind of verbal device.... by means of which harmoniousness is increased. This quality is very evident in Ghalib.

The second point is that in the two lines five clauses [jumlah] have been used, three in the first line and two in the second. The abundance of clauses creates variety in the harmony, because in some places the line must be read rapidly because of the clauses, and in other places it's necessary to read haltingly, as in [the second line of {126,10}] which contains four clauses, three of which will be read swiftly-- and then there will be a pause. One of the excellences of this ghazal is that its verses contain many clauses.

All this is very well, but to explain the meaning of this verse is no easy task. Some meanings are in earlier commentaries, and I have come up with some points myself. But I am not satisfied; I can say with confidence that despite its complete beauty, the meaning of this verse is not clear. Consider the first customary interpretation:

1) In the first line is a negative rhetorical question. That is, it will be decoded like this: 'Can you say that we (the beloved) are not in your (the lover's) heart?' It's clear that you can't say such a thing. But if you can't say that we (the beloved) are in your (the lover's) heart, then tell me this, and so on. In this there are two flaws. The first is, why can't the beloved say, 'We are not in the lover's heart'? The beloved can always cast doubt on the lover's sincerity and faithfulness and can say, 'Your claims are all very well, but we don't trust you; we know that we are not in your heart'. The second flaw is that the prose of the verse would need to have 'then' [phir] instead of 'but'. Some people have even read par as phir , and straightened out the meaning. But in Arshi's edition and in all the trustworthy manuscripts there's only par , not phir .

2) [Another customary interpretation:] In the first line there's not a question, but rather information. Now the prose will be like this: 'You can say for the sake of argument that we (the beloved) are not in your (the lover's) heart. That is, you can say that our claim of passion is false. But tell me this', and so on. In this the flaw is that the lines become 'two-part'. In the first line he has said through the beloved's lips that the beloved is not in our (the lover's) heart, and in the second line he has made the claim that no one but the beloved is in his heart. Thus there's no connection between the two lines. In order to create a connection, there would have had to be some proof, or if not a proof then a suggestion, that in the lover's heart there's no one except the beloved.

If it be assumed that the beloved is intended to be the True Beloved, [the basic problem remains].

Now please consider my proposal. The first 'heart' is the beloved's heart, and in the first line 'we' applies to the lover. The second 'heart' is the lover's heart. Now the interpretation will be that you can say that we (the lover) are not in your heart. But tell me this: when in our heart you alone are present, then why are you hidden from our eyes? The flaw in this interpretation is that there's no warrant in the verse for taking the first 'heart' as the beloved's, and the second 'heart' as the lover's. No doubt it's true that the verse is so ambiguous that if such an assumption isn't exactly warranted, it's not exactly unwarranted either. But the proper condition is that the warrant for assumptions should come only from within the verse itself. Since that's not the case here, the commentary remains defective, although it's better than [the usual ones].

== (1989: 238-40) [2006: 260-62]



Faruqi is right to point to the difficulties of this verse. Despite its undoubted beauty and engaging air of triumphalism ('ha! I've caught you! I win the argument!), the verse doesn't really hang together properly. It's very difficult to put together an interpretation in which the second line in fact provides an effective rejoinder to the first one. Using (1a) as Faruqi and the commentators do, it's virtually impossible.

But then Sean Pue came up with what seems to be the best suggestion yet: (1b). The lover reproaches the beloved with neglecting him. The beloved replies, 'Aren't we in your heart?' (Meaning, isn't just the thought of us enough, for a true lover like you?) Then the lover responds: 'Well, you can say that you're in my heart, but tell me-- if you're so embedded in my heart, even to the exclusion of all else, then why aren't you visible to my eyes?'.

Even on this reading the verse doesn't work with that satisfying click of logical gears meshing, because it's not obvious that what's in one's heart normally is, or has to be, or ought to be, visible to one's eyes. (In fact, usually in the ghazal-- as in real life-- the two domains are more separate than overlapping.) But at least (1b) makes the two lines refer to the same situation, so it saves the second line from being a complete non sequitur. The second line can be some kind of a flirtatious, teasing remark, perhaps: since the lover is so unqualifiedly devoted to the beloved and she knows it, why doesn't she let him see her? (Such a remark could also be addressed to a divine Beloved.) This verse is so frustrating that Sean's suggestion came as a godsend. It does seem as if he has thought of a reading that had eluded Faruqi-- and how often does that happen?