Ghazal 145, Verse 14x


((aziizo ;zikr-e ;Gair se mujh ko nah bahlaa))o
kih yaa;N afsuun-e ;xvaab afsaanah-e ;xvaab-e zulai;xaa hai

1) dear friends, don't divert me with mention/telling of the 'union' of/with an Other

2a) for/since/while here the spell/enchantment of a sleep/dream is the story of the dream of Zulaikha
2a) for/since/while here the story of the dream of Zulaikha is the spell/enchantment of a sleep/dream


((aziiz : 'Dear, worthy, precious, highly esteemed, greatly valued, honoured, respected, beloved; —a great man; a worthy or pious personage, a saint; one beloved, a dear friend; a relation, relative; —a great potentate, a title of the king of Egypt'. (Platts p.761)


;Gair : 'Other, another; different; altered, changed (for the worse); bad; strange, foreign;—another person, an outsider, a stranger, foreigner; a rival'. (Platts p.774)


bahlaanaa : 'To cause to be pleased, to amuse, divert, recreate, entertain, cheer, enliven'. (Platts p.191)


afsuun : 'Incantation, charm, spell, verses used in spells or enchantments, fascination, sorcery, witchcraft'. (Platts p.62)


;xvaab : 'Sleep; dream, vision'. (Platts p.494)

Gyan Chand:

afsuun-e ;xvaab is that mantra from the reciting of which an enemy would fall asleep, or would be overpowered by unconsciousness. Dear friends, don't divert me by saying, 'If the beloved pays no attention to you, leave her; there are many more beautiful ones, you can give your heart to them and easily achieve union. Don't you see that Zulaikha in her youth saw Hazrat Yusuf in a dream and fell in love with him; but later she married another-- that is, the 'Aziz of Egypt [((aziiz-e]-- and obtained union with him [Yusuf]. Why don't you too pursue some other, for the sake of union?'

The second line can also mean, 'You are telling me, by way of an example, the story of Zulaikha's marrying someone else. To me, the story of Zulaikha is a means of bringing on sleep, so that at least I would be able to see the beloved in a dream'. (369)


DREAMS: {3,3}
'UNION': {5,2}

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices.

Thanks to the multivalence of the i.zaafat in the first line, ;Gair can mean either 'union with an Other' (something that the speaker might be urged to consider for himself), or 'the union of an Other' (somebody else's sex life) or 'a strange/foreign/bad union'. Since the phrase refers to a story being told by the speaker's friends in order to divert him or cheer him up, the range of possible narratives would be extremely wide.

In the second line, we encounter an 'A,B' construction that equates the speaker's own 'enchantment of sleep/dream' with the 'dream of Zulaikha'. It's tempting, and quite plausible, to take the story of Zulaikha's dream as the story the speaker's friends have been telling him in the first line. But within the grammar of the verse, it's not at all necessary. The friends could have been telling some other story entirely, and the speaker then simply uses Zulaikha's dream to illustrate a point he's trying to make about their narrative.

For the story of the 'dream of Zulaikha', see {194,5}; it's also alluded to in {145,9x}. It's such a rich and narratively complex story, with so many elements of chastity and sensuality, arrogance and humility, dream and reality, failure and success, that it's not at all clear what elements of the story are being invoked.

Similarly, the i.zaafat in afsuun-e ;xvaab opens up an array of possibilities. Is it an 'enchantment that is a sleep/dream'? Is it an 'enchantment that is created by a sleep/dream'? Is it an 'enchantment that pertains to a sleep/dream' (in some unspecified way)? And not only is the connection ambiguous, but the two parts themselves are complex in their own ways. It's well established that ;xvaab can mean either 'sleep' or 'dream'-- so is the speaker's experience being analogized to Zulaikha's (which in this case I think we can safely take as 'dream'), or being contrasted with it (his is the sleep, hers is the dream)? And is the afsuun the enjoyable, desirable 'enchantment' of listening to a story, or is it the frightening grip of nightmare and bad magic ('sorcery, witchcraft')?

Obviously, the whole range of permutations is almost hopelessly wide. The longer one considers this verse, the more its shape keeps changing, and new possibilities constantly emerge. Is it perhaps almost too richly multivalent, does it leave us with a sense of looseness of structure?

Only in retrospect do we savor the initial vocative plural ((aziizo , which at first seems a bit unusual (how often does the wretched lover actually have a whole group of dear friends around him?). Only when we hear the second verse do we pick up on the reference: Zulaikha's husband is called the 'Aziz (Qur'an 12:30). Of course the wordplay is fun in itself, but is there also a sense in which the speakers 'dear friends' are playing the cat's-paw role of the 'Aziz? (And it's clever that they're plural, because only the plural vocative is instantly and conveniently recognizable as such.)

There are also the beautiful rhythm and sound effects of the second line, in which the juxtaposition afsuun-e ;xvaab afsaanah-e ;xvaab not only pleases our ears, but also leads us to wonder whether the afsuun and the afsaanah are being compared, or contrasted.