Ghazal 208, Verse 10


((aashiq hu;N pah ma((shuuq-farebii hai miraa kaam
majnuu;N ko buraa kahtii hai lail;aa mire aage

1) I am a lover, but deception/trickery of beloveds is my task/desire
2) Laila vilifies/'badmouths' Majnun, {in my presence / compared to me}


farebii : 'Deceiving, deluding, defrauding, cheating; alluring, beguiling, winning'. (Platts pp.780-81)


kaam : 'Action, act, deed, work, doing, handiwork, performance; work, labour, duty, task, job; business, occupation, employment, office, function; operation, undertaking, transaction, affair, matter, thing, concern, interest'. (Platts p.804)


kaam : '(Persian) Desire, wish; design, intention; --the palate'. (Platts p.804)


buraa kahnaa : 'To speak ill (of), to pronounce or call (one) bad, evil, wicked, &c.; to vilify, abuse'. (Platts p.143)


That is, she says that only/emphatically you are better than he. (236)

== Nazm page 236

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, 'I'm a lover no doubt, but I'm a beloved-deceiving lover. That is, all the beloveds of the whole world love me. In comparison to me, Laila vilifies Majnun. and praises me.' (293)

Bekhud Mohani:

I'm a lover no doubt, but to deceive a beloved and render her infatuated is a simple task to me....

The fame of [these lovers] has reached such an extent that where people want to write 'beloved', they write 'Laila', and where they want to write 'lover', they write 'Majnun'. And on top of this, the best part is that the level of passion and madness that Majnun is said to have reached, has not been vouchsafed to anyone else. (419)



Usually it's the beloved who teases and plays tricks, and the lover who relishes that sweet suffering (as in {191,3}). But on occasion the lover too can give the beloved a dose of her own medicine. He can turn her charming delicacy into weakness, as in {20,3}, and her charmingly capricious self into a notorious liar, as in {20,2}. If she herself falls in love, he can gently (?) taunt her, as in {40,1}. And he can hold out before her the possibility that he might himself cleverly and sneakily find a new beloved, as in {65,1}.

But here he's at his wittiest and most tongue-in-cheek. The first line is shockingly un-lover-like, and alerts us to expect something amusing and wildly implausible. (On the subtleties of kaam , see {22,6}.) Needless to say, we wait (under mushairah performance conditions) in keen anticipation.

In the second line the over-the-top imagery is as potent as possible: Laila actually 'badmouths' (a current American idiom that works so perfectly that I can't resist it) Majnun! The Urdu idiom doesn't mean that she literally calls him 'bad', but that she vilifies or abuses him in some unspecified way that is, as so often, left for us to imagine.

And then the final humorous punch: a clever double use of the idiom mire aage . All along we've seen it used either literally ('before me, in my presence') or as an obvious extension of that sense ('in my view, in my opinion'). Now we see the literal possibility invoked-- along with 'compared to me', a sense of the idiom that is quite new to this ghazal and thus feels abrupt and enjoyably fresh. So we end up with two possible readings:

=The speaker is such a tricky guy that he has cleverly induced Laila to think of him as her intimate friend and confidant, and 'before him, in his presence' she pours out to him all her grievances against Majnun.

=The speaker is such a tricky guy that he has completely snowed Laila and won her heart: she says to the speaker (or to unspecified people) that Majnun is really nothing much 'compared to him'.

The first reading is humorous because of the vision of Laila gossiping in a commonplace way, as any young woman might with her girlfriends, complaining about her lover and enumerating his many faults and failings. That's such a comedown from her traditional level of archetypally exalted behavior (as in {104,1}) that it's funny in itself; and when combined with the vision of her sharing her confidences not with her girlfriends but with the sneaky, untrustworthy speaker/lover himself, while he no doubt makes sympathetic noises-- well, the whole effect is so weird that it's amusing indeed. And just to prove his unreliability, here the speaker is gossiping to us about his intimate knowledge of Laila's private affairs.

The second reading is humorous because it's something that Laila just 'says' to people, maybe not even in the speaker's presence at all. Since the verb is habitual, maybe she goes around saying it frequently, and elaborating on all the points of superiority she finds in the speaker, enumerating them on her fingers as she tells everybody what a loser Majnun is by comparison. This too is a delightfully bizarre vision. But of course, it isn't really an extravagant claim of superiority by the speaker, because he's already described his project as a farebii or 'deceit'. So he's simultaneously puncturing his own balloon: even as Laila describes his superiority over Majnun, we know by the speaker's own account that it's all a fake.

A fake and a tease-- something to amuse the speaker's real beloved. He is laughing at himself, and encouraging her to laugh at him. But maybe he's conveying just the smallest hint of caution to her too? How does she really know how deep his ma((shuuq-farebii might go? Perhaps she'd better be just a tad nicer to him, hmm?