Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Zauq - Na Kartaa zabt main naalaa to

As requested...

Actually, this one is short but quite, QUITE, brilliant! Some truly soaring imagery!

ना करता ज़ब्त मैं नाला तो फिर ऐसा धुँआ होता
कि नीचे आसमां के और नया इक आसमां होता
"if i hadn't controlled (my) lament, there would have been such (a cloud of) smoke
that below the sky there would have been another new sky"

This one seems pretty straightforward, isn't it? The lament that rises from the Lover's burning heart comes with thick clouds of smoke... so if the Lover was to actually give vent to his agonies for any length of time, the smoke would spread from horizon to horizon, like a 'second sky'...

But remember that 'aasmaan' is also a synonym for the Almighty in the Ghazal world... and immediately much more intriguing interpretations of the second line open up! Zauq was being VERY clever here!

जो रोता खोल कर जी तन्गना-ए-दहर मे आशिक
तो जू-ए-कहकशां मे भी फलक पर ख़ून रवां होता
"if the Lover was to open out his heart and weep in the contrained (confines of the) world
blood would flow even along the Milky Way (river) in the sky"


Continuing the overall idea of the previous sher, Zauq chooses, in this one, to highlight the 'limitedness' of God's world, in comparison to the expanse of the Lover's grief...

'जी खोल के रोना' is a popular idiom in hindi even today. Literally translating as 'to open the heart and cry', the expression actually means something like 'to have a GOOD cry', meaning to cry without constraint, to let out all one's grief in tears etc...

But Zauq uses the idiom for some truly sharp word play here - if the Lover was really to 'open out' his grieving heart, how would it ever fit into this extremely limited universe of God? ['तन्गना' is literally a narrow passage, so 'तन्गना-ए-दहर' is used to signify the metaphorical lack of space in the god's world]

And so, what would be the result if the Lover was to try opening out his heart (full of his ebbing life blood) in this space-constrained universe... well, the 'river in the sky' [i.e. the Milky Way] would suddently find it's waters reddened with the poet's blood!!

बगूला ग़र ना होता वादी-ए-वहशत मे ए मजनूँ
तो गुम्बद हमसे सरगश्तों की तुर्बत पर कहाँ होता
"if there wasn't a whirlwind in the valley of despair, O Majnuun
then how would there have been a dome over the tombs of crazed ones like us?"

Another brilliant one!

You're probably familiar with at least the general contours of Nizami's legendary 'Laila and Majnuun' love-tragedy which, i believe, formed the template for 'Romeo & Juliet'. The central idea of the story is the 'madness' of majnuun and his crazed wanderings in the wilderness... lost in Laila's love... and his ultimate demise on hearing of Laila's death.

Extending a kindred hand to Majnuun, the poet points out to him that it is lucky that the 'valley of madness' is visited by whirlwinds, which create 'stately domes' even over the 'graves' of those madmen (like the poet and Majnuun) who have perished in the wilderness...

The choice of words is especially breathtaking... 'sargasht' could literally translate to something like 'having whirlwinds in the head', meaning, of course, madmen whose heads keep 'spinning'... but when you juxtapose this nuance with the first line's use of 'whirlwinds in the valley of madness'.... wow!

ना करता ज़ब्त मैं गिरिया तो ए ज़ौक इक घड़ी भर मे
कटोरे की तरह घड़ियाल के गर्क आसमां होता
"if I hadn't controlled (my) tears, O Zauq, then in just a moment
the sky would have drowned in the clockface, as (it does) in a bowl"

Just TOO clever!! Ghalib would have been proud of this one!

What awesome imagery... and once again, what amazing word play!

"घड़ी भर मे' is an idiomatic way of saying 'in a moment', but the literal translation is, of course, 'in a clock' (घड़ी can mean both 'moment' and 'clock').

So just look at the way Zauq plays with the various possibilities of virtually every word he uses here... if the poet doesn't control his tears 'in a moment' then the 'clock' would fill up with his tears, becoming like a bowl... and the sky would 'drown' in it, just as the sky drowns in a bowl of water (the allusion being to the sky's reflection in water, of course)... But once again, remember that 'aasmaan' also means God, and what is he saying now? That his tears would fill up Time itself, and drown the Creator?!

Other possibilities too... Ghariyaal is used in the second line to make it explicit that the first line's 'Ghari' should be interpreted as 'clock' and not just as 'moment'... but apart from meaning a Clock (actually, usually a large curved metal plate - rather like a bowl - that used to be struck to mark time), Ghariyaal also means a crocodile... so is the sky (Almighty) at risk of 'drowning in a crocodile' (i.e. getting eaten by one) that is swimming in the poet's tears?

The possibilities are infinite... with the only certainty being that Zauq was being extremely tongue-in-cheek here!

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