Ghazal 137, Verse 3x


karte ho shikvah kis kaa tum aur be-vafaa))ii
sar pii;Tte hai;N apnaa ham aur nek-naamii

1) of whom/what do you complain? -- you, and faithlessness?!
2) we beat our breast/'head'-- we, and (good) reputation?!


nek-naamii : 'Good name; good character; reputation'. (Platts p.1167)


That is, a complaint about faithlessness is made, and faithfulness is part of your nature. Enough! If you complain, then complain about your own self. There remains us-- when we see our good name dying and your faithlessness, then we beat our breast that we can't even renounce faithfulness.

== Zamin, p. 321

Gyan Chand:

You complain to me: 'What faithlessness did I show you, that you vilify me in the whole world, and yourself become well-reputed?' Why do you make this complaint-- how is faithlessness possible for you?! We beat our breast! Why are you blaming us for being well-reputed? Where are we-- and where is good reputation?!

He has said both things sarcastically.

== Gyan Chand, p. 333



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 For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

The enjoyable ambiguity of verses of the exclamatory 'I and' type is here on fine display. Zamin and Gyan Chand illustrate it nicely, by making quite different assignments of who said what to whom, and what they meant by it. The truth is, of course, that the verse has been carefully set up to deny us any such reliable information.

For the beloved's complaint may be about a person or a thing ( since kis is the oblique of both kaun and kyaa ). She might be complaining about the lover's behavior in general, or about some complaint that he has made against her. Similarly, when the lover beats his breast (or literally, his head), is that a gesture of guilt or innocence, of personal despair or of vexation with the beloved?

Moreover, the exclamations 'you-- and faithlessness!' and 'we-- and good reputation!' give us almost no further help, because, as Gyan Chand notes, they might well have been said sarcastically. Or, of course, hypocritically, grovelingly, humorously, or even-- in the warped world of the lover-- quite sincerely. As so often, Ghalib has both permitted and compelled us to decide for ourselves.