Ghazal 159, Verse 3


saaqii-garii kii sharm karo aaj varnah ham
har shab piyaa hii karte hai;N mai jis qadar mile

1) {be ashamed for / uphold the honor of} Cupbearer-ship today; otherwise we
2) every night, always only/emphatically drink wine to the extent it might/would be available


sharm karnaa : 'To feel ashamed... ; to be abashed'. (Platts p.725)


That is, today you've become the Cupbearer; today, fill me up. (171)

== Nazm page 171

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, 'Today you've become the Cupbearer; you ought to fill me up. Every day we drink more or less wine at our own house too, but we're not vouchsafed the chance to drink to our heart's content. Today, serve us as much as we want.' (228)

Bekhud Mohani:

Today you've become the Cupbearer, so serve us as much as we want. Otherwise, usually we drink more or less wine. That is, we don't insist on your satiating us because we are longing for wine. Rather, our meaning is that you've become the Cupbearer, so uphold the honor of Cupbearer-ship too.

Janab Shaukat [says], 'oh Cupbearer, don't think that we are of small capacity; our today falling short of deep intoxication is a mere happenstance. Thus our falling short is for you a proper cause of shame, not an occasion for taunting me.' (306)


WINE: {49,1}

The first line begins with a command-- 'be ashamed for, uphold the honor of, Cupbearer-ship today!' Then comes varnah , which makes it clear that what follows contains some kind of 'otherwise' state of affairs, something that explains and justifies the command. But of course (since we're used to this sort of thing by now), it's not clear exactly what part of the 'otherwise' state of affairs is the one that needs to be changed or apologized for. Here are some possibilities:

='We always drink as much wine as is available, but it's never enough for our thirst, so for once, oh Cupbearer, give us as much wine as we can drink!' (That is, change the amount of wine.)

='Oh Cupbearer, you know we always show more capacity and excellence as a drinker than you do as a drink-provider-- aren't you ashamed? For once, see if you can do your job properly!' (That is, change the Cupbearer's performance.)

='Normally we don't care much about wine, we just casually drink it to whatever extent somebody happens to provide it for us. Oh Cupbearer, see if you can arouse our relish a little more than this!' (That is, change the drinker's mood.)

In all these cases, the drinker can be addressing any Cupbearer. For a further touch of piquancy, we can imagine each of the three as addressed to the Beloved in particular, as the Cupbearer par excellence. And for a final set of complexities, we can imagine each of those three complaints as addressed to the Beloved, about the Cupbearer: 'The regular Cupbearer's performance is inadequate; won't you please do a better job yourself?'.

The real Ghalibian twist is the exquisitely clever phrasing of jis qadar mile . To say 'I drink wine to whatever extent it might/would be available' may express, in English as in Urdu, either the flat-out desperation of a drunkard (who is talking about the amount of the wine), or the casual indifference of the non-drinker who only takes a glass out of social courtesy (who is talking about the occasions for drinking).