Ghazal 130, Verse 5x

{130,5x}*

hastii fareb-naamah-e mauj-e saraab hai
yak ((umr naaz-e sho;xii-e ((unvaa;N u;Thaa))iye

1) existence is the {deception/beguilement}-{letter/document} of a wave/whim/emotion of a mirage
2) for a single/whole lifetime, experience the coquetry of the mischievousness of the title/style

Notes:

fareb : 'Deception, deceit, fraud, trick, duplicity, treachery, imposture, delusion, fallacy; allurement, beguilement, &c.'. (Platts p.780)

 

naamah : 'A letter, writing, epistle; a record, written document; a work, treatise, book; history'. (Platts p.1118)

 

mauj : 'A wave, surge, billow... —whim, caprice; —emotion, ecstasy'. (Platts p.1086)

 

naaz : 'Blandishment, coquetry, playfulness, amorous playfulness, feigned disdain; dalliance, toying; fondling, coaxing, soothing or endearing expression; —pride, conceit, consequential airs, whims; —softness, delicacy; elegance, gracefulness'. (Platts p.1114)

 

sho;xii : 'Playfulness, fun, mischief; pertness, sauciness; coquetry, wantonness; forwardness, boldness, insolence, &c.' (Platts p.736)

 

((unvaa;N : 'Superscription, title, or title-page (of a book, &c.); preface; anything that serves as an indication (of another thing); that which is understood (by anything); —mode, manner'. (Platts p.766)

 

u;Thaanaa : 'To support, bear, carry; to take upon oneself, bear the burden or responsibility of, undertake; to undergo, experience, suffer, endure; to incur'. (Platts p.20)

Asi:

What you are considering to be existence is a single deception-letter of a mirage-wave. That is, in this duplicitous letter there is deceit upon deceit-- and in reality there's nothing at all, the way a wave in a mirage is only a screen of deceit. Existence too is just like this. This deception-letter, that has a similitude with a mirage-wave, is nothing but a title (the mirage-wave has been called a title). Remain in this maze for your whole life. (215-16)

Zamin:

Enough-- the poet says that the wave of existence is nothing more than a wave in a mirage. To place trust in it is to remain ensnared in a net of deception for one's whole life. (316)

Gyan Chand:

fareb-naamah is that letter of which the topic would in the beginning be heart-captivating, but within which there would be nothing of use, it would be just a trick. The 'wave of a mirage' too in the beginning, from afar, seems heart-captivating; but when you go near it, it turns out to be only a deceit. This very situation is that of existence. Remain lost in the mischievousness of its title; don't go inside and search for the true reality, because there's nothing at all in it. The way the title of a deceit-letter [fareb-naamah] is mischievous, and after that there's nothing to it, for a whole lifetime we remained lost in the mischievousness of the outward aspect of existence.

== Gyan Chand, p.330

FWP:

SETS
WRITING: {7,3}

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

For more on mirages, see {16,4}.

For more on noun compounds like fareb-naamah see {129,6x}. Metrically, there's room for it to be fareb-e naamah with an i.zaafat , but Arshi and my other sources agree that it's not; and I'm glad, because that would certainly be a less punchy reading.

Existence is writing done by a wave, or writing that is itself a wave. At once we think of a sandy shore, with the tide sculpting out lines and contours. Which is very fitting, because it's a wave 'of a mirage'-- and a mirage is frequently of a body of water, and often occurs in the desert. The related meanings of mauj (see the definition above) as 'whim' (a sudden 'wave' of impulse in the mind) or 'emotion' (a deep 'wave' of feeling in the heart) also work perfectly with the word-play and meaning-play of the verse.

The flirtatious qualities of dil-farebii , of naaz , of sho;xii , are preeminently those of the beloved. And they are just as ambiguous as she is herself. The use of the elegantly duplicitous word fareb (see the definition above), with its range from outright 'trick' to charming 'beguilement', is especially perfect here; for more on this word, see {71,3}.

Existence is a tricky enchantment, or an enchanting trick: it presents itself as a billet-doux-- from a 'wave' (of water? of caprice? of emotion?) in a mirage. The way to make the most of it is to prolong that first moment of delight and wonder, before the dispiriting realization sets in that it's all going nowhere. We should thus enjoy the 'title', and not seek to read the 'letter' itself. And this is not too difficult, for how long can 'a single lifetime', or even 'a whole lifetime', be? Is a single lifetime even long enough to savor all the pleasures promised by the irresistible fareb-naamah of life?