Ghazal 158, Verse 5


dekho to dil-farebii-e andaaz-e naqsh-e paa
mauj-e ;xiraam-e yaar bhii kyaa gul-katar ga))ii

1) just look at the heart-deceivingness of the style of the footprint!
2) even/also the wave of the gait of the beloved did such/what 'rose-cutting' as it passed by!


gul-katar : 'To snuff (a candle); --to trim (a lamp); --to calumniate'. (Platts p.911)


katarnaa : 'To cut, clip, pare, lop, prune, trim; to cut out; to cut up, to hew'. (Platts p.812)


gul katarnaa and shiguufah pho;Rnaa are both idioms with exactly the same meaning; that is, to use some machination such that turmoil/mischief would arise, and you yourself would remain apart from it. (170)

== Nazm page 170

Bekhud Dihlavi:

Just look at the heart-deceivingness of the style of her footstep-- how the wave of the gait of the beloved, having become shears, has cut flowers! This second meaning also emerges, that gul katarnaa is an idiom that is used when someone creates turmoil/mischief; and her footstep, having established itself on the ground, has caused turmoil/mischief to break out mutually among lovers and Others. (226)

Bekhud Mohani:

In the beloved's footstep is the extreme limit of heart-captivatingness. It's worth seeing how what kinds of mischief arise from it.

[Or:] From the beauty of the footprint of the style of the wave of the beloved's gait, a garden has bloomed in the road. (304)


[According to Asi:] The gait of the beloved has been called a wave because from the movement of a wave, shapes appear on the surface of the water. He says, wherever the wave of the beloved's gait has passed, there roses are scattered about, as if the beholders of her footprints are sacrificing themselves for them. (391)


In this place the word 'wave' does not seem to have any excellence or affinity. [Instead it could have been:] us kii ;xiraam-e naaz bhii kyaa gul-katar ga))ii . gul katarnaa has other meanings too: to cut flowers; to do something novel or unexpected; to say surprising things; to act mischievously; to create turmoil/confusion; to show anger. (363-64)


gul katarnaa : to make flowers out of paper, etc.; to do 'flower-work' or embroidery; to bring off some extraordinary or surprising accomplishment. (522)


[See his comments on Mir's M{1289,5}.]



Both lines are in the inshaa))iyah mode: they're primarily exclamations. The first line introduces itself with the exclamatory energy of the colloquial dekho to ; the second line contains both the forceful kyaa and the here almost untranslatable bhii : in this position, in this kind of an exclamatory sentence, bhii can be used simply to emphasize the word before it, and to express (admiring or scornful) astonishment. Alternatively, bhii can mean 'even/also' as it usually does: 'her footprints are amazing, and even/also her gait is astonishing'.

The real question is, as so often, the relationship between the two lines. It's perfectly possible to read them as simply two parallel exclamations, one praising her footprints and the other praising her gait. But surely, since it's Ghalib we're dealing with here, there's probably something more going on. What's the connection between the two lines? Here are some possible ways to link them:

=Perhaps the footprint is to the earth as the wave is to the sea. That is, the footprint is like a wave, because both are produced by movement, and both are disturbances in the surface of a larger medium across which movement takes place. On this reading, both lines describe the same general situation: her irresistible, devastating charm.

=Perhaps the trickery ('heart-deceivingness') of the footprint is like the mischief-making [gul katar] of the gait. Both of them have a 'style' that bewilders observers and ultimately drives them mad. On this reading, each line praises a separate thing, but for the same quality.

=Perhaps the 'heart-deceivingness' of the footprint and the devastatingness of the gait form a vicious circle. As she sways or glides sinuously along like a wave, her progress is defined by those round, swirling footprints that seem to ripple seductively behind her like little whirlpools. Just as a whirlpool looks innocent until the hapless ship gets close enough to be sucked in, so her footprints achieve strange feats of trickery and deadly allure. On this reading, both lines work together to delineate the mechanisms by which her beauty wreaks its havoc.

The centerpiece of the verse is obviously the remarkably versatile idiom gul katarnaa . Putting together the various definitions provided by Platts and the commentators, it can mean: snuffing out a candle; trimming a lamp; creating turmoil/mischief while remaining apparently aloof; cutting off or pruning or cutting down roses; doing something novel or unexpected; saying surprising things; doing 'flower-work' embroidery; bringing off some extraordinary accomplishment. When these various permutations are plugged into the various possible readings of the lines, the resulting combinations seem to go on forever.

I haven't quoted anything from Shadan for a long time. But isn't it nice to know that he's still providing us with helpfully simplified rewritings of the lines, showing us how Ghalib should have done it? His chutzpah offers a pleasure all its own.