Ghazal 149, Verse 10x


mai;N ne junuu;N se kii jo asad iltimaas-e rang
;xuun-e jigar me;N ek hii ;Go:tah diyaa mujhe

1) {when / in that} I made to/from Madness, Asad, a plea for color/enjoyment/beauty
2) he/it gave me only/emphatically one dive/plunge into the blood of the liver


iltimaas karnaa : '(- se ) To petition, beseech, entreat, supplicate, request, represent humbly'. (Platts p.74)


rang : 'Colour, colouring matter, pigment, paint, dye; colour, tint, hue, complexion; beauty, bloom; expression, countenance, appearance, aspect; fashion, style; character, nature; mood, mode, manner, method; kind, sort; state, condition; ... sport, entertainment, amusement, merriment, pleasure, enjoyment'. (Platts p.601)


;Go:tah denaa : '( - ko ) To plunge (into water), to dip, to duck'. (Platts p.773)

Gyan Chand:

My color has fled. When I made the request of the madness of passion that color might be vouchsafed to me, it/he gave me a dive into the blood of the liver. To be colored with only/emphatically one's own blood is not colorfulness/liveliness, it's wretchedness. The liver's turning to blood happens in grief and misery. (339)


JIGAR: {2,1}
MADNESS: {14,3}

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

For discussion of the possibilities of jo , see {12,2}.

A cleverly iihaam -like piece of misdirection occurs in the first line. The ordinary, 'least marked' sense of junuu;N se is certainly 'through madness, from madness', and such a reading works very well: 'in my madness, Asad, I made a plea for color/enjoyment'. We expect that when we're finally allowed to hear the second line, it might tell us to whom the plea was directed.

It finally does, but only indirectly, and-- in classic mushairah-verse style-- at the last possible moment. Not until we hear diyaa do we realize that there must be an agent who did the giving, and we then at once go back and reread the first line, so that it provides us with one. The pleasure of doing things like this on the fly, under mushairah oral-performance conditions, gives one a kind of buzz, a kind of thrill that basically can't be experienced by a reader who has both lines simultaneously available on a printed page.

There's additional relish in the double sense of ;Go:tah denaa : on the one hand a 'dive/plunge' can be something that is 'given', in direct response to the request in the first line. But on the other hand, 'to give a dive/plunge' [;Go:tah denaa ] can also mean 'to duck, to dip' (see the definition above). So it might be that Madness gave the speaker (permission for?) the dive, but it might equally well be that Madness simply picked him up and dunked him.

Why did I ask the figure of Madness for 'color'? Gyan Chand suggests, rather literally, that it was because my face was pallid, and that's certainly possible. But in view of the many meanings of rang , the request could equally well have been for pleasure, or enjoyment, or beauty (see the definition above). All we can be sure of is that rang is something desirable.

And, to shift the emphasis, why was it the figure of 'Madness' whom I asked for such a desirable gift? Perhaps because it was in the power of Madness (alone?) to fulfill my request. Or perhaps because it was 'madness' even to make such a wild, extravagant, impossible request.

In either case, Madness gave me a very straightforward response: a single dive or plunge into 'the blood of the liver' (for more on this, see {78,3}). But what kind of a response was it, really? Depending on how we place the stress of our reading, the second line can vary considerably:

=Madness tormented me-- instead of giving me any kind of real pleasure, enjoyment, beauty, Madness gave me only a dive into the blood of my own liver, which itself was both a result and cause of misery

=Madness shortchanged me-- instead of giving me many dives into the blood of the liver, so that I could truly savor my sufferings in a properly lover-like manner, Madness gave me only one

=Madness satisfied me-- a single dive into the blood of the liver was more than sufficient to provide me with all the 'color, enjoyment, beauty' that a lover could ever ask for

=Madness overpowered me-- in order to shut me up, it simply grabbed me and dunked me, willy-nilly, into the blood of the liver

And of course, as so often, the question of tone is left entirely to the reader to decide-- is the tone wry? melancholy? neutral and matter-of-fact? ruefully amused?