Ghazal 190, Verse 12x


aatish-afrozii-e yak shu((lah-e iimaa tujh se
chashmak-aaraa))ii-e .sad-shahr chiraa;Gaa;N mujh se

1) fire-scatteringness of a single flame of suggestion/allusion, from/through you
2) wink-adorningness of a hundred cities of lamp-display, from/through me


iimaa : 'Sign, nod, beck, hint, suggestion, indirect reference or allusion; emblem, symptom'. (Platts p.115_


The addressee of the first line cannot at all be some [ordinary] beloved, it can be that self/essence who is the True [divine] Beloved. The meaning is that since you have illumined in my heart a single flame of suggestion, I have begun to fill the whole world with winks. For a whole world of the light of suggestion he has given the simile of a lamp-display, since in the first line he has said 'flame-scatteringness of suggestion'. 'A hundred cities' is for expressing the abundance of the lamps. (356-57)

Gyan Chand:

You make a single sign/gesture, and I make a hundred-cities lamp-display. That is, I start a fire. This is an example/allegory, as in the case when someone would prepare a single flame, and from this flame hundreds of lamps would be lit. The beloved, through her airs and graces, causes this fire to flame up, and from it I light hundreds of wounds and make them a lamp-display. A sign/gesture of the eyes is called a 'wink'. The [flickering] light of a lamp-display is like a wink. Thus to adorn the wink of a lamp-display-- that is, to light a hundred lamps.

== Gyan Chand, p. 364



For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

On the nature of chiraa;Gaa;N , see {5,5}. In addition, it's worth taking a close look at that 'hundred cities' of lamp-display. A well-established Persian (though not Urdu) idiomatic pattern, often imported by Ghalib into his verses, is that of the ' yak - something' of something, which establishes a sense of wholeness, completeness, a very large quantity. An especially relevant example is the 'cityful of longing' [yak-shahr aarzuu] of {16,2}; for more examples and discussion, see {11,1}.

In the present verse, this idiomatic pattern in the second line is suddenly multiplied a hundred-fold, perhaps for a new and piquant degree of emphasis; and then we belatedly notice that the yak has been moved up into the first line. In fact in the first line the phrase yak-shu((lah-e iimaa might itself structurally be another example of the same idiom; apart from quantity, another possible sense of the idiom is 'suddenness', so perhaps the 'flame' might be counted.

Like so many verses with structural parallelism between the lines, this one leaves it up to us to decide about the relationship between the lines. Are they two coexistent and equally legitimate roles (the beloved does her part, the lover does his)? Is the first line the cause, and the second line the effect (because she suggests, he winks)? Is it about cooperation in lighting a fire (she supplies the match, he supplies the lamps)? Or is there an implied complaint-- or perhaps even an implied boast-- about disproportion (she offers merely a single flame, he responds with a hundred cities' worth of light-show)?