Saturday, 14 April 2007

Ghalib - bas ki dushwaar hai har kaam ka aasaan honaa

Bas ki dushwaar hai har kaam kaa aasaan honaa
aadmii ko bhii mayassar nahii.n insaa.n honaa

बस कि दुशवार है हर काम का आसान होना
आदमी को भी मयस्सर नही इन्सान होना

"While it is difficult for every task to become easy (achievable)
(Why, ) even men do not (always) succeed in becoming human"

Depending on the interpretations of 'bas ki' the sher can have slightly varying meanings, all quite nice ones. If it is taken as 'while' or 'although', the sher seems to ask a (mocking? lamenting?) question like "while it is admittedly difficult for every task to be easy, is man even condemned to fail at becoming human?' Alternately, 'bas ki' could mean something like 'it is just', in the sense that we nowadays say 'period!' after a declaration to say that 'that is just how it is'. In that sense, the sher could me merely a declaratory statement like "it is just too difficult (impossible) for every task to be easy. Why, men do not even manage to become human!"

Giriyaa chaahe hai kharaabii mere kaashaane kii
dar-o-diiwaar se Tapke hai bayaabaa.n honaa

गिरिया चाहे है खराबी मेरे काशाने की
दर ओ दीवार से टपके है बयाबान होना

tears (weeping) wish the ruin of my humble abode
(the process of becoming) desolate drips from my doors and walls

Normally regarded as one of Ghalib's better ones, i believe, although a little abstruse in its symbolism. In its most common interpretations, the notion of 'dripping' (tapakna) is used to draw a simile between tears and, possibly, leaking of rain-water (due to the poor state of the house). The (slightly forced?) simile that is only implied here is that 'just as the (tear-like) dripping waters are in process of delivering my humble house to a state of desolateness, so are my tears aiming to finish me off.' It is the way Ghalib says that 'बयाबान होना' is dripping from his walls, i.e., the 'process of becoming desolate' is what is dripping, that renders this sher so hauntingly 'untouchable' and sets it apart.

waa-e-diiwaanagii-e-shauq ki har dam mujhko
aap jaanaa udhar aur aap hii hairaa.n honaa

वा-ए-दीवानगी-ए-शौक़ कि हर दम मुझको
आप जाना उधर और आप ही हैरान होना

such is the madness of my love (infatuation) that every time
i myself go there, and (yet) myself am surprised/thwarted (by the unmovingness of the beloved?)

वा - ए - दीवानगी is an ironical exclamation of the sort 'oh, well done, madness!' In his typical style, Ghalib congratulates his infatuation, which forces him to constantly return to the Beloved's doorstep.

The 'proof' of madness is, of course, that upon reaching there, the poet is astonished/thwarted (हैरान can mean both). If he is astonished at finding himself at the Beloved's door, that would be madness indeed, and would underline that the poet makes this journey completely 'under the influence' without even realising where his feet are leading him. Alternatively, it could be the charms of the Beloved that leave him surprised, which would still be a little crazy, because it is those very charms, of course, which had led the poet there in the first place.

हैरान is also used in the sense of 'thwarted' or 'hassled', in which case his 'madness' would be in constantly returning to a Beloved who refuses to respond to his ardour (which, of course, is the the constant state of affairs in Ghalib's universe!).

Such a wealth of lovely meanings!!

jalwaa az-bas ki takaajaa-e-nigaah kartaa hai
jauhar-e-aaiinaa bhii chaahe hai mizgaa.n honaa

जलवा अज़-बस-कि तकाजा ए निगाह करता है
जौहर ए आइना भी चाहे है मिज़गा होना

To such an extent does (her) radiance demand (i.e. attract) observation
Even the streaks on the mirror (created due to polishing) wish to become eyelashes (and thus the mirror itself, an eye)

Needs little by way of explanation, this one. The only point of interest being, probably, the unusual visualisation of (suitably curved) polish streaks on the mirror as eyelashes! The overall idea seems a little trite though - her beauty draws out stares of admiration from everyone, even from the normally eyeless objects that are fortunate enough to find her unveiled in front of them. Ho-hum!

ishrat-e-qatlgaah-e-ahl-e-tamannaa mat puuchh
iid-e-nazzaaraa hai shamshiir kaa uriyaa honaa

इश्रत-ए-क़त्लगाह-ए-अहल-ए-तमन्ना मत पूछ
ईद-ए-नज़ार्रा है शमशीर का उरिया होना
"ask not about the festivity (that reigns) over the abattoir of the desirous ones!
(even) the baring of the sword is like sighting the Eid's moon (there)"
'the abattoir of lovers' or the metaphorical place where lovers go to be slaughtered, wears a look of constant festivity, as those destined to come under the knife look forward to being liberated from their pain shortly. And when the curved blade finally is bared (and flashes as it is raised), to the lovers the sight is like the (much awaited) Eid's moon (the thin crescent that needs to be sighted for the Eid festivities to be declared open). Once again, the overall poetic idea (of hopeless lovers looking forward to oblivion) isn't too original, but the likening of a flashing sword to a crescent moon certainly is unusual enough to warrant attention.

le gaye khaak me ham daagh-e-tamanna-e-nishaat
tuu ho aur aap ba-sad-rang-e-gulistaa.n honaa

ले गए ख़ाक मे हम दाग-ए-तमन्ना-ए-निशात
तू हो और आप बा-सद-रंग-ए-गुलिस्तां होना
"i have taken into dust (buried) the wound of my longing for happiness
(may) you remain, and yourself (become) a garden of hundred colours"
The metaphorical burying of the lover's (bleeding) wounded heart into the earth, and that, in turn, providing fertile ground for the 'blooming' of the Beloved, evokes the lover's belief that his hapless end (while longing the unmoving Beloved's affections) will only help to spread the fame and radiance of the Beloved further. But he seems strangely contented, even comforted, by that thought, and wishes her on...

ishrat-e-paaraa-e-dil zakhm-e-tamannaa khaanaa
lazzat-e-riish-e-jigar gark-e-namakdaa.n honaa

इश्रत-ए-पारा-ए-दिल ज़ख्म-ए-तमन्ना खाना
लज्ज़त-ए-रीश-ए-जिगर गर्क-ए-नमक्दां होना
"celebration for a piece of heart is to receive the wound of desire
enjoyment for a piece of liver is to drown (itself) in the salt dish"
This one is somewhat amusing, though in a ghoulish way. Just as a piece of liver becomes delicious (and thus, metaphorically, gratifies its sense of taste) by dipping itself in the salt dish (a process which must, by definition as well as by popular idiom, be unbearably painful) similarly, the lover's heart celebrates the receipt of its 'wounds of desire'. 'Lazzat' (literally enjoyment/gratification) is often used for pleasures of the tongue, so the salt-dish plunge of the piece of liver makes for a fitting simile - for the 'taste' that the lover's heart has acquired for the wounds inflicted by his unrequited ardour.

kii mere qatl ke baad usne jafaa se taubaa
haye us jod-pashemaa.n kaa pashemaa.n honaa

की मेरे क़त्ल के बाद उसने जफ़ा से तौबा
हाय उस जोद-पशेमां का पशेमां होना
"after my death she renounced all cruelty
oh how wonderful, the shame of that easily-shamed one!"
Totally delightful, and requires no explanation! Probably the best one in the ghazal.


haif us chaar girah kapRe kii kismat Ghalib
jis kii kismat mei.n ho aashiq ka girebaa.n honaa

हैफ उस चार गिरह कपड़े की किस्मत ग़ालिब
जिस की किस्मत मे हो आशिक़ का गिरेबां होना

"alas, the fate (cutting) of that quarter-yard of cloth, Ghalib
whose fate is to be(come) the collar of a lover"
Evokes the oft-repeated ghazal imagery whereby the despairing lover is going to tear out his collar (चक-ए-गिरेबान), in a crazed attempt to soothe the pain in his heart. The most commented aspect of this sher is the alternate, much less common, usage of 'kismat' - which can mean something like 'the measured cutting of cloth by a tailor, in order to make a specific garment'. Immediately, the double-use of 'kismat' springs from being merely poetic repitition, to the sort of brilliance that only Ghalib could have come up with!

1 comment:


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