Ghazal 133, Verse 5x


mat puuchh asad ;Gu.s.sah-e kam-fur.satii-e ziist
do din bhii jo kaa;Te to qiyaamat ta((abo;N se

1) don't ask, Asad-- the suffocation/rage/anxiety of the short-termness of life!
2) when/if we spent even two days-- then with devastating/'Doomsday' exertions/troubles


;Gu.s.sah : 'Choking, strangulation, suffocation; — (choking) wrath, rage, anger, passion; — grief, disquietude of mind, anxiety'. (Platts p.771)


ta((ab : 'Exertion, labour, toil, trouble, hardship; fatigue, weariness, lassitude'. (Platts p.326)


Oh Asad, the state of the promise/vow [Asi's text has va((dah instead of ;Gu.s.sah] of the short-termedness of life-- why even ask?! Enough-- don't ask anything; the reality is that we have passed even those two days of life enduring a devastation/'Doomsday' of sorrow and grief.

== Asi, p. 217


The wording of the verse doesn't convey its true meaning. He wants to say, 'Two days of life, and that too, with what difficulties they passed-- don't ask about it!' In the expression of this meaning, the phrase va((dah-e kam-fur.satii is absolutely disconnected and meaningless [Zamin's text has va((dah instead of ;Gu.s.sah].

== Zamin, p. 318

Gyan Chand:

Life had said, 'Asad, I will remain with you, I promise you that [Gyan Chand's text has va((dah instead of ;Gu.s.sah]. But I have very little time; very soon I will leave you and set off.' This promise/vow full of short-termedness-- it's not worth mentioning! Life spent only two days with us-- and even those, with great sorrow. It's necessary to declare the subject of kaa;Te to be 'life' instead of 'we', so that some meaning for 'promise/vow' would be able to emerge. If the word va((dah were not there, then we could say ham ne kaa;Te .

== Gyan Chand, p. 332


DOOMSDAY: {10,11}

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. This verse is NOT one of his choices; because I thought it was interesting, and also for the sake of completeness, I have added it myself. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

There's plainly a textual problem, between va((dah and ;Gu.s.sah . As always, I take Raza's text as normative. And in fact Raza is right; in the 1821 manuscript divan, the Nuskhah-e Hamidiyah (p. 181), it's definitely ;Gu.s.sah (which is a far better reading anyway). The source of the problem seems to be Arshi, who unfortunately gives va((dah ; perhaps it's a calligraphic error.

In the first line, ;Gu.s.sah is an unusual, compelling word. The ghazal universe is full of laments and regrets about the shortness of life, but this particular word is rare. It doesn't appear in any of Ghalib's divan verses (though Mir uses it occasionally). It may also seem more striking to us now, since in modern usage the primary meaning of ;Gu.s.sah is anger, while in Ghalib's day its range may have felt wider (see the definition above).

The enjoyable part of the verse is (as in so many 'mushairah verses') withheld until the last possible moment. Even the 'two days' of life were spent in devastating, literally 'Doomsday', troubles and hardships. The brief days of life were as bad as Doomsday-- and of course, they will be followed, once they end, directly by the ordeals of the real Doomsday itself.