Ghazal 205, Verse 6


takalluf bar-:taraf na:z:zaaragii me;N bhii sahii lekin
vuh dekhaa jaa))e kab yih :zulm dekhaa jaa))e hai mujh se

1a) to tell the truth, even/also when [I am engaged] in spectatorship indeed-- still,
1b) to put aside formality, even/also when [she is] under observation, so be it-- but

2) that she would be seen-- since when is this outrage/cruelty [to be] {'looked upon' / endured} by me?


na:z:zaarah : 'Sight, view, look, show; inspection; --amorous glance, ogling'. (Platts p.1142)


na:z:zaaragii : 'Seeing, looking at; sight; observation; --s.m. Beholder, spectator'. (Platts p.1142)


jaa))e hai is an archaic form ofjaataa hai (GRAMMAR)


The meaning of na:z:zaaragii is 'beholders'. That is, even if I too would be among the beholders, what of it? When will I be able to 'look upon' this outrage: that she would be seen; that is, that Others would see her-- when would this be acceptable to me? (232)

== Nazm page 232

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, I accept that I too am among her beholders. But this outrage will never be 'looked upon' by me, that people would see her. For goodness sake [bhalaa]-- how can this envy/jealousy be acceptable to me? (290)

Bekhud Mohani:

The truth is that even after the beholders are disgraced to whatever degree, we can't 'look upon' the outrage that we would see the beloved in such a situation, when other people too would be present. In such a situation we consent to remain deprived of a sight of her. (410)


Compare {153,1}. (287, 294)


GAZE: {10,12}

Here's a spectacular (and what a perfect adjective!) display of word-play and meaning-play most enjoyably working together. In the obvious reading of the first line (1a), the common petrified phrase takalluf bar-:taraf works almost the way 'to tell the truth' does in English, as a sentence-introducer that promises to 'cut to the chase' or get right to the heart of the matter. For more examples and discussion of this phrase, see {65,1}. And the rest of the first line continues to prepare us colloquially for something else: the concessive 'even in spectatorship, indeed' (on the colloquial use of sahii see {9,4}) is then followed by the 'but'. Thus we have a first line that is focused obsessively on the second line, preparing us in three different ways to pay attention to what is to come.

Then the second line introduces a very clever obsession of its own: a 'repetition' of dekhaa jaa))e that is really only apparent. The first occurrence is straightforward: 'would be seen', a passive subjunctive. The second occurrence is part of dekhaa jaa))e hai , which is an archaic form of dekhaa jaataa hai , a passive habitual. Its literal meaning is thus 'is (habitually) seen', but it has a strong colloquial sense of absolute refusal: this is not to be seen, not to be 'looked upon' by me. (For more discussion of this idiomatic usage, see {205,4}.

What is it that can't be tolerated, can't be borne, can't be 'looked upon' by me? Why, that she would be 'looked upon', of course. I naturally can't bear that she would be 'looked upon' by others-- and this is true even when I myself am among the others, the 'lookers'-- as we learned in the first line. And now that we're returning in our minds to the first line, we notice another and more literal reading: that of (1b). For the first line can also be taken as describing her behavior: 'to put aside formality' when 'in' or under 'observation'-- this too works perfectly, though differently, with the rest of the verse.

The basic idea is thus a commonplace one: that the lover is so jealous that he can't stand to have anybody look at the beloved-- including himself. But what other poet can offer us such an ambivalent but enticing souffle of beholding, seeing, 'looking upon', spectatorship-- enhanced by our own 'participant observer' role in putting it all together?