Sunday, 17 February 2008

Zauq - Tere koochaa ko vo biimaar-e-gham

Thought we could look at this rather nice ghazal by Zauq today. It will be a bit of a job to translate it, though - not only because some of its shers are quite impossibly abstruse, but also because it is an unusually long work. But it does contain more than one gem, so do bear with me - I shall try and confine the 'commentary' to the minimum.

तेरे कूचा को वो बीमार--ग़म दारु-शिफा समझे

अजल को जो तबीब और मर्ग को अपनी दवा समझे

Those pain-afflicted ones thought your street to be an infirmary,

who (considered) the hour of death (to be) a physician, and death (to be) their medicine

Fairly straightforward, this one. The Beloved has just one cure to offer those suffering the effects of her charms – euthanasia!

निगाह क्या और मिज्हा क्या हम तो दोनों को बला समझे

तीर--क़ज़ा उस को पर--तीर-क़ज़ा समझे

What is a glance, and what is an eyelash? We considered both to be a calamity

Oh arrow of fate, we considered it to be the feathers of the arrow of fate

Some clever word-play here... hinging on the fact that 'par' can mean both a 'feather' and an 'eyelash'. The coquettish glances of the Beloved are often characterised as arrows in the poetic idiom, and an arrow needs to be 'feathered' in order to fly straight and fast, doesn't it? Nice!

ग़लत-फहमी हमारी थी जो उन को आशना समझे

हम उन को देखो क्या समझे थे और वो हमको क्या समझे

It was my error that I considered her an acquaintance/lover

look, what I had thought her, and what she thought of me!

Definitely not too deep, but still charming in its sheer colloquial-ness, nahin?

शहीदां--मोहब्बत खूब आईन--वफ़ा समझे

बहा खून कू--क़ातिल में उसी को खून-बहा समझे

The martyrs of love understood well the laws of faithfulness

The blood flowed in the street of the killer, (and) that is what they considered as blood-money (only that they considered as blood having truly flowed)

Oh, VERY nice, this one! Zauq pulls off some truly exquisite word-play here...

As per Shari'a law, a murder can be compensated through 'blood money' (paid to the dependents of the victim), and the legal term for such a payment is 'khoon-bahaa'. So, in one sense, what the sher is saying is this - those slaughtered by the Beloved have such a fine understanding of the 'laws of faithfulness' that they are quite prepared to accept their own blood flowing through the Beloved's street as adequate 'blood money' for the crime.

However, one can also take the more every-day sense of 'khoon-bahaa' – which simply implies the act of 'blood having flowed'. And in this sense, the sher is saying that these poor wretches truly consider their blood to have flowed only when it has flowed on the Beloved's street – before that it might as well have been congealed in their veins, for all the value it had for them!

वही कुछ तल्ख़-काम उस जिंदगानी का मज़ा समझे

कि जो ज़हराब--तेग-यार को आब--बका समझे

Only those few embittered ones understood the enjoyment of that life

who considered the poison-water (steel) of the Beloved's sword to be the eternal waters

Once again, a lot of nice word-play here. Zahraab is literally 'bitter waters', used to mean poison. However, it also is used figuratively for the 'temper' of steel of a finely made sword. Hence the zahraab-e-tegh-yaar has many layers of meaning lurking within. Similarly, 'aab-e-baqaa' is literally the 'immortal waters', and the term usually indicates the legendary 'fountain of youth' from which Khizr is supposed to have drunk (also known as aab-e-Khizr). However, 'aab' can mean, apart from 'water', the lustre of (among other things) a finely made sword!

हर एक गर्दिश में सौ अंदाज़ नाज़--फितना-ज़ा समझे

फ़लक को हम किसी काफिर की चश्म--सुरमा सा समझे

in every adversity, the hundreds of coquetries I considered the graces born of mischief

the sky I considered to be like someone's kohl-lined eyes

'Fitna' can mean something like 'mischievous seduction' as also 'sedition' or the 'instigation of turbulences'. Hence fate, which is often guilty of such perverse inspirations, is seen to be equivalent to the Beloved's eyes, which are always guilty of mischief-inspired coquetries...

सितम को हम करम समझे जफ़ा को हम वफ़ा समझे

और उस पर भी ना समझे वो तो उस बुत से खुदा समझे

Torture I considered to be kindness, oppression I considered to be faithfulness

and if she does not understand even then, then (even) God should learn from (/deal with) that idol

Very very nice again! Simple words, but what a wealth of meanings!

The first line is straightforward. The beauty is in the second. Apart from its delightfully 'expostulatory' tone, the line is enjoyable because of two very different senses it can be read in. In the first, what is being implied is that the Beloved is so perverse (since she fails to appreciate the Lover's exceptional devotion, as captured in the first line) that even God could take lessons in perversity from her. The alternative meaning is more ominous – hinging on the fact that 'kisi se samajhnaa' can mean something like 'to deal with someone'... hence the poet could be letting off something like an imprecation - that if the Beloved is so obstinate as to 'not understand' then let God deal with her suitably!

बुराई में हमारी गर वो अपना कुछ भला समझे

बुरा समझे बुरा समझे बुरा समझे बुरा समझे

In my downfall, if she found something to her own advantage;

she erred; she erred; she erred; she erred!


तुझे संगदिल आराम--जान--मुब्तिला समझे

पड़ें पत्थर समझ पर अपनी हम समझे तो क्या समझे

O stone-hearted one, I considered you the relief of an afflicted life

may lightning strike my wits – what on earth did I choose to believe!

Once again, what a delightfully colloquial touch in the second line, isn't it? “PaDen Patthar samajh par apni” would literally translate to “may stones fall on my understanding”, but I've tried to put in a more natural English phrase that captures the same sense of exasperated hand-wringing!

वो हम से ख़ाक-सारों को गर अपना ख़ाक--पा समझे

हम अपनी ख़ाक-सारी अपने हक में कीमिया समझे

If she considered us lowly ones to be the dust (beneath) her feet

we considered our lowliness to be the alchemy (magic) in our favour

To become the dust beneath the Beloved's lovely feet is not something any Lover would cavil at, is it? In fact such a chemical transformation would be welcomed with the same joy as that of lead turning to gold, which is essentially what 'kiimiyaa' means.

जो कुछ दिल पर गुज़रती है सुनाएंगे हम उस बुत को

खुदा जाने कहें क्या हम वो अपने दिल में क्या समझे

Whatever besets the heart, I shall recount to that idol

(but) God knows what I shall tell (her), and what she will understand in her heart!

Simple. But sweet.

तीरे कुश्ते जो यूं ख्वाब--अदम से यक-बा-यक चौंके

मगर शोर--क़यामत को तेरी आवाज़--पा समझे

those slaughtered by you were startled from (their) dreams of annihilation, (as if)

they (mis)took the clamour of the day of reckoning to be (the sound of) your footsteps

Makes the Beloved sound uncharacteristically heavy-footed, doesn't it?! Perhaps it's her high-heels...? :-)

नसीम--सुबह गुलशन में अगर होवे दम--ईसा

तेरा बीमार--ग़म तुझ बिन शुमूम--जां-गजा समझे

Even if the morning breeze in the garden was the breath of Jesus

Those sickened in your love would, in your absence, consider it a fragrance that kills

The allusion being, of course, to Biblical fables of Jesus reviving the dead by breathing on them.

कहो बुलबुल से चलता कारवाँ है नाघत--गुल का

चमन बाद--सबा समझे की आवाज़--दरा समझे

Tell the bulbul that the caravan of the bloom's fragrance is setting off

whether the garden considers it the morning breeze, or the tolling of a bell

Not quite sure what sort of metaphor is being evoked here. There is the sound of bells (tied around the camels' necks) when a caravan sets off, of course...but why the morning zephyr should evoke the sound of bells remains a little unclear. Still, it undeniably sounds beautiful...

निगाह--लुत्फ़ उन की जब ना बाज़ आई तगाफुल से

हम उस की ना-रसाई अपना बख्त--ना-रसा समझे

When her gracious glances did not desist from indifference/inattention

I considered her non-arrival the fortunes of my unworthiness/ineffectualness

'naa-rasaa' can mean the lack of something arriving or reaching somewhere, and also the quality of being abject, unworthy and without effect. The sher plays upon this ambiguity.

हिसाब असला ना पूछे मुझ से मेरे दिल के ज़ख्मों का

हिसाब--दोस्तां दर दिल अगर वो दिल-रुबा समझे

(She) would never demand from me the account of my heart's wounds

The accounting between friends/lovers, if in her heart that heart-stealer (sweetheart) would understand

The sher plays upon the fact that the popular term 'dilrubaa' used almost as a synonym for 'sweetheart' actually means 'someone who steals hearts'. Hence, if the Beloved had an appreciation for the rules of accounting between lovers, she would desist from demanding a tally of the wounds in the Lover's heart...lest her theft get discovered...

अगर दिल को निकाला चीर कर पैकान तो रहने दो

कि आशिक अपने पहलू में उसी को दिल की जा समझे

If (one) would extract the arrow-head by tearing open the heart, let it be

that the lover may, to his advantage, consider it to be the (appropriate) place for the heart

Clearly, if extracting the arrow-head lodged in one's heart by the coquettish eyes of the Beloved requires the heart to be ripped open, it would be in the Lover's interests to simply accept the 'arrow lodged' state of his heart. The sher leverages the fact that 'pahluu' can mean one's side (the common sense in which it is used) as also an 'advantage' or 'expedient'.

करे आह--रसा मेरी जो सैर--आलम--ब़ला

तो सीना को फ़लक के आब्ला सा ज़ेर--पा समझे

If my sharp sighs were to travel around the world of calamities

(they would) consider the breast of the sky (like) the blister beneath the foot

Nicely picturesque!

हिकायत दिल की कहता हूँ समझते हो शिकायत है

तुम ही समझो ज़रा दिल में कि समझे भी तो क्या समझे

(I) tell the tales of the heart, (and) you consider them to be complaints

(I leave it to you to) figure out in your heart how little you understood!


हँसे है ज़ख्म--दिल तदबीर पर जर्रा से कह दो
उन्हें टांके ना समझे खंदा--दंदां-नुमा समझे

Tell the physician - the heart's wound laughs at the cure

(let him) not believe them to be stitches; (he should) see them as toothy smiles

hmm...the stitches used to sew up a wound do bear a superficial similarity to someone showing his teeth in a smile...! The wound in the Lover's heart is thus seen to be laughing at the physician's ministrations, which it knows shall prove to be ineffectual.

A 'zarraah' is actually not a doctor, but specifically someone (like a compounder, I guess) who is qualified to dress wounds.

हुआ जब गर्मी--उल्फ़त से मोम उस दिल-शिकन का दिल

तो उस के दिल-शिकस्ता अपने हक में मोमिया समझे

when the heart of that heart-breaker turned to wax with the heat of love

those with hearts broken by her considered it a corpse-preserver for themselves

A little too contrived, i think.

'Momiyaa' is the wax used to embalm a mummy for preservation. Hence, when the Beloved's heart finally 'melts' (in favour of a rival, of course) the multitudes of disappointed claimants to her affections accept the dripping drops of her molten heart to embalm their own corpses!

अदू आया है बन कर नामा-बर लिखा नसीबों का

करेंगे ले के ख़त क्या मुददा' से मुददा समझे

The rival has come as the messenger of the writing of fate

why should I bother to accept the letter, (I have) understood the issue from the litigant (herself)

Quite right! Why accept the Court's summons if the plaintiff has already given you an exhaustive account of her complaint? Might as well try for an 'out of court' settlement!

ना आया ख़ाक भी रास्ता समझ में उम्र--रफ्ता का

मगर समझे तो दाग--मसीयत को नक्श--पा समझे

Not at all did (I) figure out the path (taken by) life gone past

but what I did understand was to realise the wounds of sin as (its) footprints

Our pasts 'marked out' by the trails of our sins....? Very nice!

ख़बर सुनते ही क़ासिद से हुए हम बे-ख़बर बिल्कुल

तेरे पैगाम को गोया कि पैगाम--क़ज़ा समझे

On hearing the news, I became completely unaware of the messenger

as if I took your message to be the message of fate (death)

...the grim reaper being the only messenger whom one is never in a position to give a reply to...

नहूसत भी सा'आदत हो गई सौदे में जुल्फों के

गिलीम--तीरा-बख्ती सर पे हम जिल--हुमा समझे

Even adversity turned to prosperity in the infatuation (trade) for the tresses

The garment of misfortune on my head, I considered the shadow of Humaa

Very abstruse!

Humaa is a legendary bird which is supposed to fly constantly in the air and never to touch the ground; with the added merit that every head it 'overshadows' during flight becomes destined to wear a crown!

Gileem is a garment (or a blanket or carpet) made of sheep's hair.

I'm not quite sure how the Beloved's tresses come into all of this, unless Zauq means to imply that the particular gileem the Lover fancies (in his madness) he is sporting is made of the Beloved's tresses, and hence he feels as blessed as someone under Humaa's shadow...???

कुशाद--कार हम ने पंजा--तकदीर को सौंपा

खिरद के तेज़ नाखून नाखून--अन्गुष्ट--पा समझे

the untying of affairs I left to the claws of fate

the sharp nails of intellect (I) took to be the nail of the big toe

Haven't figured out this one either... 'Angusht' means the forefinger, and the word normally carries a certain degree of significance since the forefinger is used for making a pledge or for 'pointing out' someone... however, 'angusht-e-paa' would mean the forefinger of the foot (or the big toe) where I begin to lose Zauq...

हवा ने ज़ुल्फ़ को छेड़ा और अपना दम उलझता है

कहीं ऐसा होवे हम से वो काफ़िर अदा समझे

the winds teased (her) tresses, and it is my breaths/life that tie themselves in knots

god forbid that that infidel learns coquetries from ME!

The idea being that if the Beloved observes the effect (on the Lover) of the winds stirring her locks, the next time she could remember to 'tease the tresses' herself, in coquetry!

समझ ही में नहीं आती है कोई बात ज़ौक उस की

कोई जाने तो क्या जाने कोई समझे तो क्या समझे

(I) just can't understand anything about her (/anything said by her), o Zauq!

What is one to know? What is one to understand?

Delightful - this ghazal could have no other maqtaa!


Shweta said...

‘In my downfall, if she found something to her own advantage;
she erred; she erred; she erred; she erred!’
Really? Is that how you see it?
In my downfall, if she found something to her own advantage;
May she; may she; may she; may she!
Not for you ze 'jazbaa-e-kurbaani', eh?

deewaan said...

Hmmm...I actually didn't THINK to link up the 'buraa' with the 'buraaii' of the first line! Senility setting in, I'm sure! You're right - that would be a delightful alternative reading: "If in thinking foul of me she finds something to her advantage, may she go on thinking foul, may she..."!!

And the fact that both these mutually contrasting interpretations are simultaneously possible is probably the principal point of the sher!

Ze 'jazbaa-e-qurbaanii' depends entirely ze identity of the qaatil, n'est-ce pas?