Ghazal 352x, Verse 1


raftaar se shiiraazah-e ajzaa-e qadam baa;Ndh
ai aabile ma;hmil pa))e .sa;hraa-e ((adam baa;Ndh

1) through movement, tie the binding-thread of the parts/'signatures' of the footsteps
2) oh blister, {prepare to travel / 'bind on a camel-litter'} toward the desert of nonexistence


raftaar : 'Going, motion, walk, gait, pace; procedure, manner of proceeding'. (Platts p.595)


Oh blister, 'bind on a camel-litter' for the desert of nonexistence, and prepare to move along. And through this movement, tie a binding-thread on the parts/signatures of the footsteps. That is, having tied the binding-thread of the parts/signatures of the footsteps, arrive at nonexistence. To call the blister a 'camel-litter' is extremely subtle/enjoyable, because in shape a blister is similar to a camel-litter.

== Asi, p. 206


Footprints are scattered and distant; for this reason he has called them 'parts'. Movement is ongoing and continuous; for this reason he has turned it into a binding-thread for the 'signatures' of the footsteps. Now from these signatures or pages of the footsteps a bound divan has been made. That is, the traveler has arrived at the destination! But this movement was not the movement of a traveler on foot; rather, he traversed the road while seated in the camel-litter of a foot-blister. Now the question is, seated in the camel-litter of the foot-blister, where did he go? Nowhere (because the blister itself prevents movement). And when he went 'nowhere', then this 'nowhere' became the desert of nonexistence.

The gist is, 'If only there would be such a crowd of blisters that we would be slain by them!' Why is there this desire? Because he's become vexed/disgusted with desert-wandering. The desert-wandering is revealed through the blister.

== Zamin, p. 309

Gyan Chand:

By putting a string through different signatures, they are threaded together and bound. When moving along the road, with each footstep the movement is, so to speak, a binding-thread of them all. In the verse he's advised that one should keep moving, even if blisters would befall the foot. Keep moving to such an extent that you would arrive in the desert of nonexistence. ma;hmil baa;Ndhnaa = to resolve to make a journey. The blister keeps one away from movement and travel, but here it itself has a resemblance to a camel-litter.

== Gyan Chand, p. 318


DESERT: {3,1}

For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.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

On the shiiraazah and bookbinding technology, see {10,12}. On the nature of a ma;hmil , see {147,7x}.

The two lines share a concern with movement, and with imagery related to feet. 'Bind the footsteps together through linear movement' is the thrust of the first line; although the bookbinding imagery is farfetched (really footsteps don't at all resemble the signatures of a book, and the process of walking doesn't resemble the process of bookbinding), the general thrust is clear enough.

The second line commands the addressee to 'bind on a camel-litter'; fortunately, Gyan Chand makes it clear that ma;hmil baa;Ndhnaa is, idiomatically, 'to resolve to make a journey'. The verse clearly invokes this idiomatic meaning. According to the commentators, it also invokes the literal meaning, because a blister has the same shape as a camel-litter. This claim may be dubious-- in {147,7x}, I've tried to figure out what form a ma;hmil might have taken-- but the commentators unanimously insist on it, and it has its own peculiar charm. Zamin even explicitly imagines the speaker as 'seated in the camel-litter of the foot-blister'.

Then to top it all off, the part that truly radiates weirdness is that the blister itself is the addressee of the verse. What can it mean to personify (?) a blister? And then, to give the blister commands? This has to count as a bizarre and even grotesque vision. But there's an undoubtedly grandiose quality to it too, for the blister is commanded to prepare to travel to the 'desert of nonexistence', and 'nonexistence' is for Ghalib a familiar domain-- in {5,3}, he even claims to be already beyond it.

And how does all this come together? According to Zamin, the upshot is that the speaker ends up going nowhere, and 'nowhere' is itself the 'desert of nonexistence'. (This is a clever and amusing twist.) According to Gyan Chand, the point is that speaker advises himself to keep constantly moving. According to me, the sheer, wild, playful extravagance, the effrontery, is what makes the verse delightful.

Another verse that combines ma;hmil baa;Ndhnaa with blisters: {259x,1}.