Ghazal 143, Verse 3


aag se paanii me;N bujhte vaqt u;Thtii hai .sadaa
har ko))ii dar-maa;Ndagii me;N naale se naa-chaar hai

1) from fire, at the time of its becoming extinguished in water, a cry/voice/sound arises
2) everyone, in misery/distress, is helpless against lamentation


.sadaa : 'Echo; sound, noise; voice, tone, cry, call'. (Platts p.743)


dar-maa;Ndagii : 'Misery, distress, wretchedness, penury, misfortune'. (Platts p.509)


'Helpless to avoid a lament'-- that is, [in Persian] 'there's no escaping a lament' [az naalah chaarah na-daarad]. He says that, although among the qualities of fire, silence is famous-- so much so that the mental necessity has come about for the poet that with the image of fire, the image of silence too appears. Despite this silence, in the state of misery, that cry is raised. (153)

== Nazm page 153

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, fire is a silent thing; it has no connection with noise and tumult. But when they put it in water, even from it a voice is born. From this it's been proved that in the time of difficulty, everybody is forced to lament. (211)

Bekhud Mohani:

He's said 'a cry arises', and not 'a cry comes', because the force that is born in 'arises' and the meaning that is born, is not in 'comes'. That is, a voice emerges uncontrollably....

[Contrary to Nazm's view,] the image of silence with that of fire is not necessary. Silence is one quality of fire. But there seems to be no reason for calling it a 'mental necessity'. (279-80)



Here is a textbook example of 'elegance in assigning a cause'. The first line states a basic little scientific observation: when a fire is drowned, it hisses loudly, snaps, crackles, and steams. We think that this is just a routine physical fact about the nature of fire and water.

But we are wrong, as the second line so quietly but poignantly shows us. For we now learn that the fire is silent as long as it can control itself, but in its death-agonies it can't help but reveal its pain; no amount of stoicism enables it to keep silent.

And we also learn that this is the case not just for fire, but for everybody [har ko))ii]. We may all try to be brave and self-controlled, but past a certain threshhold of suffering, the effort is vain. A sufferer in agony is tormented, especially when the 'fire' of life is drowning in the deep 'water' of death, beyond the point of silence.

Since this is formally an 'A,B' verse, it can be read either with the first line as primary (the verse is 'really' about the extinguishing of fire, and the second line is just a moralistic afterthought) or with the second line as primary (the verse is 'really' about the nature of suffering, and fire is just an illustration). In this verse, it doesn't seem to make too much difference.

So quiet a verse, so completely devoid of all self-pity and any rhetorical flights. And yet how simply and irrevocably it offers its bleak little 'proof' about pain.