Ghazal 202, Verse 4


mere ;Gam-;xaane kii qismat jab raqam hone lagii
likh diyaa min-jumlah-e asbaab-e viiraanii mujhe

1) when the fate/destiny of my house of grief began to be inscribed
2) he/they/it wrote me as singularly/largely/wholly the cause(s)/material(s)/baggage of desolation


min-jumlah : 'Among, among all; in all; from among all or the whole, out of the whole (of); from among; out of; --upon the whole; --totally, universally'. (Platts p.1069)


asbaab : 'Causes, motives, means; resources; --s.m. sing. Implements, tools, instruments, apparatus, materials; goods, chattels, effects, property; furniture; articles, things; commodities, appliances, machinery; stores, provision; funds; necessaries; baggage, luggage; cargo'. (Platts p.47)


That is, the Writer of Destiny [kaatib-e taqdiir] decreed me to be the cause [sabab] of the desolation of my own house. (227)

== Nazm page 227

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, 'On the day of the eternity without beginning [roz-e azal], the Writer of Destiny had inscribed the fate of my house of grief; at that time he also decreed me to be the cause of the desolation of my own house'. The meaning is that the desolation of my house has a connection with my own self. (284)

Bekhud Mohani:

When the fate of my frame of dust [=body] began to be written down, then my being itself was decreed to be a cause of my existence. That is, Nature has placed the matter of oblivion too right within the matter of life. (399)


HOME: {14,9}
WRITING: {7,3}

Verses like this show Ghalib's deceptively light touch with abstractions. Not only does the verse sound easy and colloquial, but that second line also admits of an exceptional number of readings; it deserves its own place in the major-league ambiguity rankings. Just consider the possibilities of min-jumlah : 'among'; 'from among them all'; 'on the whole'; 'totally' (see the definition above).

And then look at the even more extensive possibilities of asbaab (see the definition above): from the logical and abstract ('causes', 'motives') through the unclassifiably intermediate ('materials', 'necessaries') to the concrete and specific ('tools', 'furniture', 'appliances', 'luggage'). Just choose one from Column A and one from Column B, and mix and match as you please:

among the:

[unique] from among all the:

on the whole:



So the possibilities range from making the speaker the sole, total 'cause' of the desolation, to making him one among the 'materials', or even just passively part of the 'luggage'. Which is after all a fine overview of the range of ways in which human beings think about themselves and their destiny.

And what is the 'house of grief' itself? Bekhud Mohani maintains that it's the body. That's always possible, but 'desolation' is especially a quality of ruined houses, so the straightforward reading is very compelling in itself.

An obvious choice for comparison is the brilliant {10,6}.