Ghazal 320x, Verse 6


.zu((f aa))inah-pardaazii-e dast-e digaraa;N hai
ta.sviir ke parde me;N magar rang nikaaluu;N

1) weakness is a mirror-polishing at the hand of others
2) but/perhaps in the guise/'veil' of a picture, I would {'come off with flying colors' / bring out 'color'}


pardaazii : 'Performing, accomplishing, finishing, completing, (used chiefly at the end of comp.)'. (Platts p.246)


ta.sviir : 'Picture; drawing; sketch; painting; portrait; an image'. (Platts p.326)


pardah : 'A curtain, screen, cover, veil ... ; secrecy, privacy, modesty; seclusion, concealment; ... pretext, pretences'. (Platts p.246)


rang : 'Colour, colouring matter, pigment, paint, dye; colour, tint, hue, complexion; beauty, bloom; expression, countenance, appearance, aspect; fashion, style; character, nature; mood, mode, manner, method; kind, sort; state, condition; ... — a place of public amusement or for dramatic exhibition, theatre, stage; dancing; singing; acting; sport, entertainment, amusement, merriment, pleasure, enjoyment'. (Platts p.601)


rang nikaalnaa : ' 'To put forth colour,' to look bright or showy, present a bright appearance; to make a show; to show off; to come off with flying colours'. (Platts p.601)


The rule is that in the solitude of weakness, at the hands of others a person becomes a puppet, or 'dead-- in the hand of the living' [murdah bah dast-e zindah]. He is like a picture-- whether you put it in front of a mirror (do its 'mirror-accomplishment'), or whether you tear it up and throw it away. Having called this state 'mirror-accomplishment at the hands of others', the poet says that when things are such, then I will so increase weakness that I will remain only a picture, so that friends would 'do my mirror-accomplishment'-- that is, they would give me place in the mirror of the heart. That is, they would sympathize with me. In this connection the sense of 'others' also extends toward the beloved.

== Zamin, p. 253

Gyan Chand:

aa))inah-pardaazii = the act of polishing. In weakness, a person becomes pallid. Others feel his pulse, or give him a hand to support him. By contrast, the person next to him seems strong and bright-complexioned; so to speak, my weakness is the radiance-increasing (the act of polishing) of the other person. It would be better for a picture of me to be made. In a picture, color will surely be shown in my face. Because a picture will be made only/emphatically with color. The meaning of rang nikaalnaa is for brightness to come upon the face.

== Gyan Chand, p. 278


MIRROR: {8,3}
VEIL: {6,1}

For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}. See also the overview index.

That first line is remarkably cryptic, as can be verified from Zamin's and Gyan Chand's utterly different interpretations.

So let me offer my own best reading. 'Weakness is a mirror-polishing at the hand of others'-- because in Persian and Urdu ghazal the heart is proverbially a mirror, and a metal mirror must be regularly polished with something like steel wool to remove the verdigris (on this see {47,1}). This polishing is envisioned as leaving actual little scratches on the mirror, so it's easy to imagine that the mirror/heart would find it painful. In a helpless state of 'weakness', the mirror/heart is scrubbed and abraded by others at their pleasure.

But perhaps-- and of course magar can mean either 'but' or 'perhaps'-- the weak person can reclaim his agency after all. The highly polished mirror reflects things so well that it resembles (or even passes for?) a 'picture'. And in the guise or 'concealment' or 'pretense' (see the definition above) of being a 'picture', the speaker would triumph-- he would 'make a show', or 'show off', or even 'come off with flying colors' (see the definition of the idiomatic expression rang nikaalnaa above).

Ghalib almost always uses such expressions in both their idiomatic and their literal senses. Here too, if we take rang nikaalnaa literally, then the weak person, in the guise of a picture, might bring out-- among other things-- 'dancing; singing; acting; sport, entertainment, amusement, merriment, pleasure, enjoyment' (see the definition of rang above).

For another meditation on the power of being ta.sviir ke parde me;N , see {6,1}.