Ghazal 233, Verse 12

{233,12}*

maa;Nge hai phir kisii ko lab-e baam par havas
zulf-e siyaah ru;x pah pareshaa;N kiye hu))e

1) again Desire wants someone on the edge of the roof
2) [in a state of] having scattered her black curls over her face

Notes:

maa;Nge hai is an archaic form of maa;Ngtaa hai (GRAMMAR)

Nazm:

[No commentary is provided.]

== Nazm page 264

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, again my longing is that some beloved, with her black curls scattered over her face, would be glancing at me from an upper chamber. (322)

Bekhud Mohani:

This picture is so heart-attracting, and its excellences are so clear, that it's in no need of commentary. (499)

Baqir:

Again my desire is in search of a vision: that someone would be standing at the edge of the roof, and her black curls would be scattered around her moon-like face. (552)

FWP:

SETS
CURLS: {14,6}

On the structure of this ghazal as a kind of loosely 'continuous' one, see {233,1}.

The commentators love to praise Ghalib for making a 'picture' of something or other, even if that's not really what he's doing. It's that old 'natural poetry' criterion, seeking to apply itself at all costs, even in the extremely inhospitable terrain of poetry like Ghalib's. But here, the commentators have their wish, and Bekhud Mohani quite understandably exults. For this verse truly is a picture. Some of the commentators seem to envision it as a flirtatious one, with the beautiful beloved contriving a seductive glance through artfully dishevelled locks.

But to me it clicked at once: it evoked a sight that I've seen so often in India. Women make much use of the flat roofs of their houses, and one of the things they come to the roof for is to dry their hair in the sun. In the old days, women didn't cut their hair, and it grew very long; usually it was heavy, straight, and jet black, and was a great point of pride. So it took a while to dry. In order to help it dry they would comb it out, and flip it forward over their faces and toss their heads, to spread it out and speed the drying. After it was dry, they would oil it and braid it back up.

The process of drying this beautiful hair was (in principle at least) an innocent one, so that a young woman might be shaking out and thus involuntarily displaying her long, loose hair on the roof as a normal part of her routine, without the least flirtatious intention. Perhaps that (presumed) innocence would add piquancy to the sight? But then, there's no particular reason for her to be on 'the edge' of the roof, as opposed to somewhere in the middle of it, unless perhaps she would indeed have a sneaky little desire to show off.

But in any case let's not forget that the whole thing is not a real sight, but a fantasy framed by 'Desire'. It's true that the 'again' might imply that this real sight had been available in the past. But it could equally well imply that it was the act of desiring itself that was repeated, whether or not it had ever had any success in seeing what it desired to see.

This verse and the next one, {233,13}, are close parallels in structure.