Ghazal 323x, Verse 5


huu;N ;xaak-saar par nah kisii se hai mujh ko laag
ne daanah-e futaadah huu;N ne daam-e chiidah huu;N

1) I am humble/'dust-like', but I have no enmity/attachment toward anyone
2) I am neither a fallen seed/grain, nor am I a spread/gathered net


;xaak-saar : ''Like dust'; base, mean, low-born, humble, lowest of the low'. (Platts p.485)


laag : 'Harmonious relation; affinity; ... — attachment, affection, love; — an application, or a direction (of the mind), aiming; aim; attention; exertion, endeavour, attempt; — touching, reaching, attaining (to), approach; ... enmity, animosity, hostility, rancour, spite, grudge; rivalry, competition'. (Platts p.946)


futaadah : 'Fallen'. (Steingass p.906)


chiidah : 'Gathered, picked'. (Steingass p.405)

Gyan Chand:

The meaning of laag is attachment and enmity both. daanah-e futaadah = Fallen seed. daam-e chiidah = Spread-out net. Seeds and net are used to ensnare someone. I am dust-like, but I have no complaint or enmity toward anyone. Seeds and net too are spread out on the ground/dust, but they have hostility toward others. In this verse the meaning of ;xaak-saar is 'seated in the dust'-- that is, poor.

== Gyan Chand, p. 514



For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.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

Gyan Chand notes the almost paradoxical duality of laag as both 'attachment' and 'enmity' (see the definition above), but then he provides a reading that relies only on the latter meaning. In {46,3}, Ghalib makes it clear that he enjoys juggling both possibilities. So is there scope for an 'attachment' reading as well? There can be, if we take the two halves of the second line separately.

For although a 'spread-out net' is a strong sign of hostile intent, a 'fallen seed/grain' is much more ambiguous. It might indeed be a part of the trap represented by the net, as Gyan Chang maintains; but it might also have been scattered by some benevolent person who wanted to help feed birds and small animals. Or it might have been charitably left by a farmer in the field after the harvest, to permit the traditional practice of gleaning. Or it might just be lying there by happenstance, or out of self-sacrifice, so that it would be a benefit to the finder.

On this reading, the speaker claims that he is humble and 'dust-like', but that he is different from other 'dust-like' things since he has no attachment or hostility to anyone. He is unlike a fallen seed/grain that lies in the dust and benevolently provides food to whoever finds it; and he is unlike an outspread net that lies in the dust and hostilely seeks to entrap its prey. So what is he like? Apparently, he's both humble, and radically detached from the world.

Note for grammar fans: That ne ... ne construction is of course nah ... nah , spelled so as to permit the syllables to be metrically long.