Ghazal 148, Verse 1


((ishq mujh ko nahii;N va;hshat hii sahii
merii va;hshat tirii shuhrat hii sahii

1) it's not passion that I have, it's madness/wildness-- so be it
2) my madness/wildness-- your fame/rumor/report, indeed


va;hshat : 'A desert, solitude, dreary place; —loneliness, solitariness, dreariness; —sadness, grief, care; —wildness, fierceness, ferocity, savageness; barbarity, barbarism; —timidity, fear, fright, dread, terror, horror; —distraction, madness'. (Platts p.1183)


shuhrat : 'Divulging, publishing; publicity, notableness, notoriety, celebrity, reputation, renown, fame, rumour, report'. (Platts p.138)


hii : 'Just, very, exactly, indeed, truly, only, alone, merely, solely, altogether, outright'. (Platts p.1243)


sahii : 'Yea, verily, indeed, true enough, forsooth; just so; very well, so be it, let it be; just; pray; please'. (Platts p.707)


That is, upon my expressing passion, you say, 'You've gone mad!' I'm mad in such a way that my response is, [the verse]. (156)

== Nazm page 156

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, since upon my claim of passion you say, 'This isn't love that you feel-- rather, it's the turmoil of insanity, that has turned into madness/wildness', then my response is 'All right, let it not be passion [((ishq nah sahii], but madness [va;hshat hii sahii]-- it's the cause for the fame of your beauty, indeed [hii sahii]. (214)

Bekhud Mohani:

From hii sahii it's apparent that the beloved has called the lover's love 'madness'. In reply to this the lover says, 'The truth is that i feel passion for you, but you say that it's not passion, but madness. All right, let it be so [achchhaa yuu;N hii sahii]. My madness won't do you any harm; rather, your beauty will be spoken of in every house: 'She's so beautiful that people go mad'. (285-86)


MADNESS: {14,3}

ABOUT hii sahii : It's impossible to find one single satisfactory translation for such a protean idiomatic expression as hii sahii . (Even separately, both parts of it are thoroughly flexible and idiomatic; see the definitions above.) Here are some of the possible translations: 'indeed'; 'at least'; 'even if'; 'in any case'; 'so be it'; 'let it be so' (as an assumption). For the purposes of the present ghazal, my solution has been to translate the expression in one of these ways, but to italicize the translation, to emphasize the colloquialness of the original. (Compare its mirror image, nah sahii , which I've treated similarly in {175}.) Wherever the commentators have used forms of the expression while discussing this ghazal, I have shown the original Urdu. Ghalib himself declared sahii expressions untranslatable: see {148,10}. Other verses that use the same idiomatic hii sahii : {9,4}; {91,4}, {228,9}. For discussion of other sahii expressions, see {9, 4}.

This ghazal is in a relatively short meter, and the refrain, hii sahii , while not unduly long, is conspicuous and powerful. It is emphatic both in its sounds (with the two mutually echoing hii syllables) and in its vigorous, argumentative colloquialness. Thus it stands out very markedly, and clever use of it constitutes one of the chief pleasures of the ghazal.

The first line, as the commentators note, seems to sarcastically echo something that the beloved has just said. (This effect of being in the midst of a vigorous argument is created largely by hii sahii .) The beloved has apparently said that what the lover feels is not passion, but merely (?) madness. He responds somewhat snarkily that even if that's true, at least she gets some advantage out of it. The advantage she gets out of it is 'fame' (or perhaps 'notoriety'; see the definition above).

The commentators suggest that this fame takes the form of gossip about her devastating beauty and its power to drive men mad. But of course, we're reminded also of the power of poetry-- think for example of Shakespeare's Sonnet 55 and Sonnet 60, which promise the beloved immortal fame through the sheer force of their own words. (For another verse along these lines, see {208,5}.)

The second line is so compressed-- it dispenses even with a verb-- that it achieves a kind of sublime crypticness. After all, what is the relationship between 'my madness' and 'your fame'? The multifariousness of hii sahii leaves us ample room to frame our own possibilities. The repetition of va;hshat , and its partial echo in shuhrat , help to focus our attention. And doesn't shuhrat leave open the possibility that the beloved herself may be involved in spreading these rumors?