Ghazal 154, Verse 5x


zindagii me;N bhii rahaa ;zauq-e fanaa kaa maaraa
nashshah ba;xshaa ;Ga.zab us saa;Gar-e ;xaalii ne mujhe

1) even/also in life, I remained stricken/slain by the relish of/for death/oblivion
2) it bestowed on me a devastating intoxication, that/this empty glass


;zauq : 'Taste, enjoyment, delight, joy, pleasure, voluptuousness'. (Platts p.578)


;Ga.zab : 'Angry, wrathful, offended, &c.; fearless, daring; outrageous; great, excessive, intense, tremendous, awful, fearful, dreadful, shocking; woeful, calamitous, injurious, hurtful, detrimental ... ;—too good; very fine, splendid, dazzling, very beautiful; wonderful, rare, extraordinary, unique'. (Platts p.771)

Gyan Chand:

For my whole life I remained in a state of having given my heart to the pleasure of death/oblivion. The relish for death/oblivion is like an empty glass, but that empty glass kept me intoxicated for my whole life.

== Gyan Chand, p. 490


WINE: {49,1}

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}. This is one of the very few ghazals for which Faruqi has marked all the unpublished verses as worthy of note.

In life the speaker was 'killed' or 'struck' (down) or 'smitten' (with pleasure?) by a particular kind of relish (enjoyment, savor, with special overtones of 'taste'). This relish was 'of' death/oblivion (in some sense he experienced death even in life); or else, given the possibilities of the i.zaafat , it was 'for' death (he was always seeking and anticipating this 'relish'). So much for the first line-- and where will the verse go from here?

The second line, in 'A,B' style, starts afresh. Paradoxically, an empty glass bestowed on him a 'devastating' intoxication. Considering at the spectrum of meanings for ;Ga.zab (see the definition above), it's lucky that English has 'devastating', which has something like the same colloquial range and energy.

And then-- one more wonderful, to-die-for complexity presents itself: is it 'that' empty glass [us], or 'this' one [is]? The two words look the same in normal orthography (Ghalib hardly ever used the differentiating diacritics). But what a gorgeously effective difference! 'That' empty glass is surely the vision of death-- one that allures the speaker throughout his life, to the point not just of intoxication, but even of a 'devastating' intoxication.

But 'this' empty glass would be even bleaker. For it would then refer to this contingent, doomed, unfulfilling, 'empty' mortal life-- a life so obviously inadequate that it would itself engender a longing for death, for oblivion, to the point of a deadly intoxication and death-wish. Compare the two readings of idhar versus udhar in {43,3}.

The idea that the empty glass is the most intoxicating one of all-- such an elegant Ghalibian paradox. The 'empty glass' here can't help but evoke the 'empty finger' of {50,2}.