Ghazal 157, Verse 3

{157,3}*

garchih hai kis kis buraa))ii se vale baa ii;N hamah
;zikr meraa mujh se bahtar hai kih us ma;hfil me;N hai

1) although it is with what [an amount of] badness, but/still despite all this
2) my 'mention' is better than I, for it is in that gathering

Notes:

baa ii;N hamah : 'Although'. (Steingass p.135)

 

baa hamah : 'With all; with all that, nevertheless'. (Steingass p.1512)

Nazm:

The main clause, which is the important one, has remained till very late. That is, the word 'mention' and its explanation, which are primary, have been placed last. (168)

== Nazm page 168

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, although my mention is made before her in a bad way, and the Others make that mention, still in any case it is better than I, for it does come into that gathering. (225)

Bekhud Mohani:

The phrase kis kis buraa))ii se is short, but as many evils as there can be in one man are all comprehended within it.... It makes it clear that extreme humiliation and abuse are performed there, but even so, the lover's ardor is so extreme that it's in no way reduced. And how could it be? If there's enough progress so that his mention occurs there, then he feels envious of his mention. (301-02)

Faruqi:

[See his comments on Mir's M{609,3}.]

FWP:

SETS == MUSHAIRAH
GATHERINGS: {6,3}
GOOD/BAD: {22,4}

This must be one of the world's ultimate mushairah verses. Nazm observes, in a somewhat crotchety tone, exactly this typical mushairah-verse structure. (He doesn't go on to criticize the verse further, though.) The first line is, in its own right, completely incomprehensible and uninterpretable. The pompousness of having not only garchih and vale , but also the apparently redundant, extremely Persianized baa ii;N hamah (literally, 'with all this') occupying the whole latter part of the line, adds insult to injury. We're exasperated with such obscurantist otiosity (there, see?); we think, 'get to the point, will you!' All the more so because after such an elaborately bombastic introduction, we deserve something special-- the point should surely be an interesting one.

Then in the carefully staged oral performance arena of a mushairah, the usual tantalizing delay is imposed before we are allowed to hear the second line. And even when we're allowed to hear it, we don't really 'get' the verse until the last possible moment. For the reason for the superiority of the 'mention' only becomes apparent when the rhyming elements, ma;hfil me;N hai , are heard. And then we get it amusingly and completely, all at once, with a sudden ruefully enjoyable comic punch.

And then-- also in classic mushairah-verse style-- that's it, and it's time to move on to the next verse; this verse wouldn't repay even five minutes of extra thought or attention. Once we get the good/bad wordplay of buraa))ii and bahtar -- and it's hard to imagine that anybody wouldn't-- the verse has exhausted its treasures, and lies collapsed like a burst balloon. But that's no insult; a burst balloon that has made the party-goers laugh has done its work well.

In English we'd be more likely to say 'the mention of me' in this situation, and to save 'my mention' for a mention that I make. I preserved the awkward form in my translation, to show the amusing semantic parallelism: 'my mention is better than I [am]', just as you might say 'my brother is better than I'. (Of course, nowadays in American practice we'd be likely to say 'better than me', but let's maintain at least a tiny shred of takalluf .) For more on this question of grammar and translation, see {41,6}.