Ghazal 322x, Verse 3


kii mutta.sil sitaarah-shumaarii me;N ((umr .sarf
tasbii;h-e ashk'haa-e z mizhgaa;N-chakiidah huu;N

1) I expended my lifetime in continuous star-counting
2) I am [a set of] prayer-beads, of tears that have dropped from my eyelashes


mutta.sil : 'Joined; contiguous, adjoining, near (to), in the vicinity ... — continual, uninterrupted; successive; in an unbroken line'. (Platts p.993)


taar : 'Thread, string; ... uninterrupted series, line, continuation, succession'. (Platts p.304)


taaraa : 'A star; planet; falling star, meteor'. (Platts p.304)


That is, from an abundance of weeping I have become prayer-beads made from beads of tears. And having become prayer-beads, I have kept on counting the stars. He has given for the 'thread of tears' [taar-e ashk] the simile of stars [taaraa], and also that of prayer-beads.

== Zamin, p. 254

Gyan Chand:

Tears steadily dropped from my eyelashes, so that they took the form of prayer-beads of tears. These tears seem to be like stars, and in this way for my whole life I kept counting stars. 'To count stars' is also used for staying awake late waiting for someone. In fact in this verse for the beads of tears he has presented two similes: prayer-beads and stars.

== Gyan Chand, p. 279


ISLAMIC: {10,2}

For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.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

The same not-very-common word, mutta.sil , appears in both this verse and the previous one, {322x,2}. We all know how words linger in the mind-- it surely happened to Ghalib, too.

The speaker has spent his life in 'star-counting'. Prayer-beads are used for counting out prayers as one says them, so they could also be a tool (though inefficient) for counting stars. The speaker's prayer-beads are made of tears that have dripped one by one from his (thread-like) eyelashes.

But there's an extra bonus, of what the commentators call a double simile and what I would call implicit wordplay. For the words taar ('thread', as for stringing beads) and taaraa ('star', Indic) hover invisibly over the verse (see the definitions above). They could be said to resonate with sitaarah ('star', Persian), but they themselves are not present in the verse. Doesn't this subtlety add to the pleasure?

Compare {10,2} with its coral prayer-beads made from blood-drops.