Who are thou…..

Har ek baat pe kehte ho
har ek baat pe kahate ho tum ki tuu kyaa hai
tumhii.n kaho ke ye a.ndaaz-e-guftaguu kyaa hai
[guftaguu: talk]
हर एक बात पे कहते हो तुम की तू क्या है
तुम्हीं कहो के ये अंदाज़ ऐ गुफ्तगू क्या है?
At everything that I say, you say, “Who art thou”?
Tell me what kind of talk is this?
Ghalib protests saying that anything that he says, he is insulted by the constant refrain, “Who art thou?” The ‘kya’ here is not meant to ask a question but to express a taunt. The emphasis should be read on ‘har ek’ and ‘tum’ i.e. he is being taunted on everything that he says. In this verse Ghalib is not insulting to his beloved, but kind of tells her that if she disagrees with him, she could argue, but not shut him up.

na shole me.n ye karishmaa na barq me.n ye adaa
koii bataao ki vo shoKh-e-tu.ndaKhuu kyaa hai
[karishma: miracle, barq: lightning, ada: coquetry]
[shokh-e-tund khu: coquettishly ill tempered]
न शोले में ये करिश्मा न बर्क में ये अदा
कोई बताओ की वो शोख ऐ तुन्दा खू क्या है?
Neither the flame has this miracle, nor the lightning this grace,
Will anyone tell me, what is that ill tempered mischievous/coquettish one.
Ghalib is flummoxed trying to describe his beloved. He wants to compare her to a flame but it does not have her fury. He wants to compare her to lightning, but it too does not have her mischievousness or coquetry. Would anyone tell him, what she is.

ye rashk hai ki vo hotaa hai hamasuKhan hamase
vagarnaa Khauf-e-badaamozii-e-adu kyaa hai
[rashk: jealousy; hamasuKhan: some who converses with you]
[Khauf: fear; baaamozii: mislead]
ये रश्क है की वो होता है हमसुखन हमसे
वगरना खौफ ऐ बदामोजी ऐ अदू क्या है?
My envy is that he converses with you
Otherwise what is the fear that he would mislead you (against me).
Ghalib says that he does not care if his enemy misleads you against him. He is envious that you are (habitually/constantly) conversing with him. The lover’s insecurity comes out openly in the verse.

chipak rahaa hai badan par lahuu se pairaahan
hamaarii jeb ko an haajat-e-rafuu kyaa hai?
[pairaahan: dress/cloth/robe]
[jeb: collar, haajat: need, rafuu: darning]
चिपक रहा है बदन पर लहू से पैराहन
हमारी जेब को अब हाजत-ऐ-रफू कया है?
Sticking to the body is the dress with blood
What is the need now to darn the collar?
This verse is peerless. One of Ghalib’s best. The dried blood causes the clothing to stick to his body and keeps the torn collar in place. Ghalib does not explain the reason for his bleeding in this verse though. However when the whole body is bleeding and hurting, is there a need to be worried about the torn collar? Some scholars have also interpreted this verse to mean that soon all blood would flow out of his body and he would need a shroud, so why worry about the torn collar. This verse is also a pointer to the harsh realities of life, where bigger misfortunes make smaller misfortune appear trivial.

jalaa hia jism jahaa.N dil bhii jal gayaa hogaa
kuredate ho jo ab raakh justajuu kyaa hai?
जला है जिस्म जहाँ दिल भी जल गया होगा
कुरेदते हो जो अब राख जुस्तजू क्या है?
Where the body has burned, the heart too must have been burned,
Raking/poking the ashes, what do you desire for (search for) now?
The fire (of love) has consumed the body and the heart. What are you looking for now by shifting the ashes? Another wonderful verse from Ghalib subject to different interpretations. The word “kuredna” is like at the center of this verse. While some scholars interpret it as trying to search something lying in the ashes, ‘kuredna’ can also mean like poking up a fire, stirring up or rekindling old passions, like we say in Hindi, ‘purane zakm kyon kuredte ho?’ So this verse can be interpreted either to mean that the beloved is looking for the heart in the ashes either to check that it is fully burnt with the body, or to see if it can be retrieved. It can however also be taken to mean that when Ghalib seems to be getting over her, she is trying to rekindle the old passions.

rago.n me.n dau.Date phirane ke ham nahii.n qaayal
jab aa.Nkh hii se na Tapakaa to phir lahuu kyaa hai?
रगों में दौड़ते फिरने के हम नहीं कायल
जब आँख से ही न टपका तोः फिर लहू क्या है?
We do not believe in only running through the viens
When it does not drip through the eye, then is it blood at all?
That blood that merely flows in the veins is not worthy of anything. It becomes ‘blood’ only when in the grief of passion/trials and tribulations of life, it flows out of the eyes i.e when the eyes cry the tears of blood, it is worthy of praise. Only then is the resolve of love complete.

vo chiiz jisake liye hamako ho bahisht aziiz
sivaa_e baadaa-e-gulfaam-e-mushkabuu kyaa hai?
[bahisht: heaven; baadaa: wine; gulfaam: delicate/like a flower]
[mushkabuu: the smell of musk]
वो चीज़ जिसके लिए हमको है बहिश्त अजीज
सिवा ऐ बादा ऐ गुलफाम ऐ मुश्कबू क्या है?
The thing for which paradise is dear to us
Is nothing except the pink, musk scented wine.

piyuu.N sharaab agar Khum bhii dekh luu.N do chaar
ye shiishaa-o-qadaah-o-kuuzaa-o-subuu kyaa hai?
[Khum: wine barrel]
[shisha: glass, qadaah: goblet, subuu: tumbler]
पियू शराब अगर खुम भी देख लूँ दो चार
यह शीशा ओ क़दः ओ कूजा ओ सुबू क्या है?
I would drink wine if I see a few wine barrels
What is this glass and goblet and tumbler.

rahii na taaqat-e-guftaar aur agar ho bhii
to kis ummiid pe kahiye ke aarazuu kyaa hai?
[guftaar: speech]
रही न ताक़त ऐ गुफ्तार और अगर हो भी
टू किस उम्मीद पे कहिये के आरजू क्या है?
The strength to speak has gone; and even if it existed
With what expectation would one say “What is my desire?”
With a lifetime of waiting, my strength to speak is gone. Even if I could muster enough strength to speak, with what expectations can I say what I desire? Having been ignored all along, what point will it serve?

banaa hai shaah kaa musaahib, phire hai itaraataa
vagarnaa shahar me.n “Ghalib” kii aabaruu kyaa hai?
[musaahib: associate aabruu: dignity]
बना है शाह का मुसाहिब फिरे है इतराता
वगरना सहर में ‘ग़ालिब’ की आबरू क्या है?
Having become the king’s associate he is putting on airs
Otherwise what dignity does Ghalib have in the city.

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