Ghazal 161, Verse 6

{161,6}

kyuu;N nah chii;xuu;N kih yaad karte hai;N
mirii aavaaz gar nahii;N aatii

1) why wouldn't I scream?! --for she calls me to mind
2) if my voice does not come

Notes:

Nazm:

That is, the beloved obtains pleasure from my lamentation. If I fall silent for a little while, she becomes irritated and incites me to sighs and groans. (173)

== Nazm page 173

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, my beloved considers my lamentation a means for her fame; for this reason she obtains a kind of pleasure from my complaints. If I become silent, then she says to people, 'A madman used to sit near my house-- today his voice doesn't come; perhaps he might have gone off somewhere'. For this reason, I always scream, night and day. (231)

Bekhud Mohani:

She gets pleasure from my complaint and lamentation. As soon as I fall silent, she begins to ask, 'What's happened to Ghalib-- for some time his voice hasn't been coming'. (310)

FWP:

SETS == CATCH-22

This is a consummate 'catch-22' verse. (You can't visit Major Major Major Major when he's in, you can only visit him when he's out.) The beloved pays no attention to the lover's voice when it's there, but only notices (the absence of) his voice when it's not there. So how can he ever reach her, how can he ever communicate? It's enough to make anybody scream with frustration-- so why wouldn't he scream? He screams with despair-- over the way she only hears his scream when it stops.

The commentators mostly prefer another reading: the lover screams in obedience, because the beloved enjoys listening to him scream, and gets irritated with him if he doesn't. His scream of anguish and frustration is music to her ears. (Compare {8,3}, in which she enjoys the bloody writhing of her wounded lovers the way others enjoy the sight of flowers.) There's no contradiction here; both readings can easily coexist.

It's also worth noting that yaad karnaa is much more active than yaad aanaa : it has a sense of deliberateness and volition. In story literature, when a king sends for somebody, the messenger usually says, ;hu.zuur ne yaad farmaayaa , 'His Excellency has called you to mind', because the king's thinking of someone is tantamount to a command for that person to appear before him at once. So there's this implication too: she never 'calls him to mind', thus summoning him to her presence, unless he falls silent. But how can he fall silent? He can't help but scream with despair, because she never 'calls him to mind' or summons him to her presence or pays him the least attention-- unless he stops screaming. And yet his scream is his best (and only) hope of making his voice heard! What's the good of being summoned into her presence anyway, if he can't scream? It's enough to make anybody scream! So the catch-22 effect is always lurking in the interpretive background.