Ghazal 203, Verse 4


:tab((a hai mushtaaq-e la;z;zat'haa-e ;hasrat kyaa karuu;N
aarzuu se hai shikast-e aarzuu ma:tlab mujhe

1) the temperament is ardent for/from the pleasures/tastes of grief/longing-- what can/would I do?
2) to me, 'desire/longing' intends/means 'the breaking/deficiency of desire/longing'


la;z;zat : 'Pleasure, delight, enjoyment; sweetness, deliciousness; taste, flavour, relish, savour; —an aphrodisiac; an amorous philter'. (Platts p.955)


;hasrat : 'Grief, regret, intense grief or sorrow; --longing, desire'. (Platts p.477)


aarzuu : 'Wish, desire, longing, eagerness; hope; trust; expectation; intention, purpose, object, design. inclination, affection, love'. (Platts p.40)


shikast : 'Breaking, breakage, fracture; a breach; defeat, rout; deficiency, loss, damage'. (Platts p.730)


Here, he has used ;hasrat to mean hopelessness and vain longing. He says, I find so much pleasure in hopelessness and vain longing, that I hope that hope would be cut off, and I would have the pleasure of vain longing. In this verse ma:tluub in place of ma:tlab is the idiom; both these words are used in colloquial Urdu.... In short, the refrain doesn't accept that connection. It ought to have been aarzuu se hai shikast-e aarzuu ma:tlab miraa . Atish too has said something similar:

dahan-e za;xm-kushtagaan se hai
mere qaatil ko marhaba ma:tlab

[by the wound-mouths of the wounded ones
to my murderer, congratulations is intended/meant] (229)

== Nazm page 228; Nazm page 229

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, my temperament is ardent for longing and vain longing. That is, through longing and vain longing I obtain the pleasure of life. I hope only with this intention: that it would be broken, and I would obtain the pleasure of vain longing to my heart's content. (286)

Bekhud Mohani:

I'm under duress. My temperament is ardent for the pleasure of failure. I don't feel longing so that it would be fulfilled, but rather so that it would not be fulfilled, and the pleasure of deprivation would be vouchsafed to me. (403)



Here's a classic example of the clever use of multivalent vocabulary: ;hasrat means 'grief', or 'longing', or 'desire', while aarzuu means 'desire', or 'longing', or 'hope', or 'expectation'; shikast means either 'breaking' or 'deficiency'. So the crucial second line can be read in at least the following ways

=through longing/hope/purpose, my goal is the defeat of longing/hope/purpose (when I realize that I'll never get what I long/hope/seek for)

=by 'longing' I really mean 'the defeat of longing', since only by longing and then having that longing prove vain can I achieve the feeling of defeated, lost, longing that I crave: thus I 'long' for the defeat of longing

=by 'longing' I really mean 'the deficiency of longing', because there's never enough longing to suit me, and so I always 'long' for more

=what I really seek are the pleasures of grief/longing [;hasrat], so as far as 'desire/longing' [aarzuu] goes, my only wish is that it would be proved vain, so as to increase my grief/longing

The result of such nuktah-chiinii and casuistry is a vexatious kind of ambiguity. Even between the two words for 'longing' (see the definitions above), should we take ;hasrat and aarzuu to refer to the same basic feeling, or to two subtly different kinds of longing (with the former more despairing, the latter more active)?

The verse refuses to give us much help with such problems: it even, in the second line, cultivates an aphoristic resonance. It also offers itself as a paradox: if 'longing' is equated with 'the defeat of longing', isn't that like a 'catch-22' situation, or a snake swallowing its own tail? And of course, the 'to me' reminds us that the speaker could be wrong in his judgments-- his perceptions could be skewed by his own warped emotional life.

After a while the reader becomes both confused and irritated by the hovering cloud of possibilities. The parsing of 'longing' becomes like running around and around in a tube while batting away a swarm of gnats. And the real source of vexation is that there doesn't seem to be anything behind it all, anything that makes the verse worth struggling with. It feels like cheap (metaphysical) thrills on the poet's part.