Borges - The Secret Miracle (Summary)

On March 19th 1939, Jaromir Hladik a Jewish author is arrested by the Third Reich. He was tried for being Jewish and working against the Nazi state and sentenced to death on the 29th of same month. His first emotion were of terror and he reflected greatly on the different methods of his execution. The pure act of dying did not engross him as much as the circumstances of it. He tried to foresee every variation of it and died hundreds of death in his thoughts standing in courtyard whose shape took all possible form and executed by soldiers of changing faces and numbers. Hladik reflects that the reality seldom acts the way it has been envisioned before hand and he deduces that if he can foresee the actual reality, he can prevent it from happening. He began to weave exquisite circumstances for that day so that they would not occur. Ultimately he came to fear that is thoughts would become prophetic. On the eve of his execution, he pondered over his unfinished play "The Enemies". He always thought that this play would redeem his reputation from less satisfactory earlier works. The play is about the unities of time, place and action. In the play even though the events play out yet the time is shown to stay still. The complete scenes repeats and the characters who die appear become alive in subsequent scenes and the multiple characters are in fact the same person in different times. It is as if the play has never taken place and it is a circular delirium that the characters experiences and re-experiences.

Not satisfied with the way the play is written and having no time to finish it now, he asks God for more time. If, he prayed, I do somehow exist, if I am not one of Thy repetitions or errata, then I exist as the author of The Enemies. In order to complete that play, which can justify me and justify Thee as well, I need one more year. Grant me those days, Thou who art the centuries and time itself. In his sleep, he visits a library looking for God.The librarian said it is in one of the letters on one of the pages of one of the four hundred thousand volumes here. Hladik picks up a random book and flips it pages. He saw a map of India and suddenly certain, he touched one of the tiny letters. A voice that was everywhere spoke to him:The time for your labor has been granted.  .

At this moment Hladik wakes up and two soldiers take him to the backyard for execution. The firing squad lines up and the final order are shouted. At that moment, the physical universe stops. All are made immobile and paralysed. In his mind he wonders if the time has been halted but then he argues that if that were true, his thoughts would have halted as well. For an unknown amount of time he slept and when he wakes up still paralysed, he realises that God has granted him his request. In Hladik’s mind a year would pass between the order to fire and the discharge of the rifles. He furiously reworks on his unfinished work rewriting and redoing it to his satisfaction, until a single epithet was left to be decided. He finds it and at that moment, the volley of bullets fells him and he died exactly on the day and time when it was designated for.

Unlike many stories that Borges wrote, this story's background is based on historical events that actually took place in WWII Europe. Jews were widely targeted and mostly summarily executed. In this story, there is a surreal play within the story which is eerie familiar to the main story. The plot of the play is a circular drama where characters and their actions repeat and the time on stage is shown to have not changed. The drama in fact never takes place. It is like a collective neurosis that all characters experience. In the story the unconscious mind (dreams) and the conscious both appear seamless and influence one another. Similarly the distinction between reality and fiction are blurred and reality actually copies from the fiction. The God is all powerful and unattainable but for Hladik He is approachable and personal. The success of Hladik's last wish is the vindication of Hladik's God's existence for Hladik. There are shades of determinism (as in he never asks God to not be executed and he does not want to change what awaits him), but at the same time he uses his free will and thought to finish his masterpiece ultimately redeeming himself. Familiar Borges's ideas of dreams, God, story within story, perception of reality and time are all visited in the story. Can the the perception of time be open to change? Can we live a life in a passage of a second of the clock? If universe was in fact was to stop, would time also stop and how would the conscious mind understand it?  Pretty dense for a three page story.

Translation - Hai Sabzah-Zaar Har Dar (Ghalib)

hai sabzah-zaar har dar-o-diivaar-e gam-kadah
jis kii bahaar yih ho phir us kii khizaan nah puuchh

naachaar bekasii kii bhii hasrat uthaaiye
dushvaarii-e rah-o-sitam-e ham-rahaan nah puuchh

Line 1/2 - Every door and wall in this my house of grief is abound in greenery (they are like a exuberant green meadow). The state like this is in the spring, then ask not what it would be in the autumn!. The poet says that this house of his, this house of grief is falling apart with neglect and disrepair. Green shoots and plants are growing from the neglected walls and doors. It is like a green untended garden. And this is the season of spring, I wonder (ask me not!) what it would be in autumn when the leaves & greens would die down and expose the real ruins of my house. If spring is like this, I wonder what disaster awaits us in autumn!

Line 3/4 - Helplessly, I am even longing for loneliness. Ask me not, difficulty of the road and the tyranny of the fellow travellers. The poet says in this difficult road that we all have to travel (life), ask me not of the brutal fellow companions that I had to face. It has reached such a state, that I helplessly wish that I was on this difficult road alone and without friends. 

Meaning of difficult words :-
sabzah-zaar = place abound in luxurious greens
gam-kadah = house of grief
khizaan = autumn
naachaar = helpless, 
bekasii = loneliness
hasrat = longing
dushvaarii = difficulty 
sitam = tyranny

The Rubaiyat : Quatrain XXIV

The Rubaiyat : Quatrain XXIV






Alike for those who for To-day prepare,
And those that after a To-morrow stare,
A Muezzin from the Tower of Darkness cries
"Fools! your Reward is neither Here nor There!"












This is the twenty-fourth quatrain of the Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat. The subtext is not very clear from reading it. The first two lines states that those who are living in today and those who stare on the tomorrow and think about the future. They are the same. The muzzein (i.e the prayer leader) from his high tower cries out that rewards of your effort is neither in This world or the world Thereafter. Not very forthcoming I must say. Here is how I read it. Those who are working hard today to make their wishes come true or those who are thinking about the future (or the life thereafter). They are both in same situation. The muezzin from the tower of darkness (probably Death itself personified from his liar) would laugh at both of them and say your reward is neither in this world or the world thereafter. He is telling there is no further reward is awaiting you whatever way you live your life and any expectation of it is just foolishness. The life lived is the reward itself and there is no more to come.

Again, the lines are very obtuse to be sure what the poet meant.

Borges : Death and the Compass (Summary)

I caught up with another of Borges's story "Death and the Compass", which is more of detective work that investigates a series of murder that seem to follow a pattern. The crimes are being investigated by 2 cops, Lonnrot  and Treviranus. A Jewish rabbi is killed in a  hotel room on Dec 3. T. postulates that he was killed by mistake for someone intended to steal from the person in the next room who owns the finest gems. On the typewriter in the room,  an unfinished line is written - "The first letter of the Name has been written.". Other possessions are mostly Kabbalah & Jewish books. L. shrugs off this explanation as not interesting and points to it being a planned murder. L. takes along dead man's books and studies them. Of particular interest to him is "tetragrammaton" which is the unspeakable name of the God. Word gets out that L. has taken to study the names of God in order find the murderer.

The next crime happens Jan 3 amid rhombus houses, a person lay dead with the "The second letter of the Name has been written." scribbled on the walls. On Feb 3, T. gets an anonymous call who offers to reveal the details of the murders. He traces the call to a hotel and when they reach the hotel room, they find the third crime committed and predictably scrawled on the wall is "The last letter of the Name has been written.". The hotel manager mentions that room guest had made a call and soon left. In the room L. finds a text underlined "The Jewish day begins at sundown and lasts until sundown of the following day."

On March 1, T. receives a letter predicting that this month there will be no crime and sending the exact location of the three crimes on map which turn out to be a equilateral triangle.T. is of the opinion that the killing spree is finished. L. pondered over the space and time symmetry of the crimes and declares that he will have killer arrested soon for there will be another crime. He leaves for the south a day earlier to pre-empt and catch the murderer. He reaches a villa that abounded in "pointless symmetries and obsessive repetitions." A niche reflected in a niche, a balcony was reflected in another balcony. A two-faced Hermes adored the garden. The abandoned house seemed infinite and ever growing.

Here he is ambushed by known criminal Scharlach Red and his henchmen. Red is previously known to L. for he arrested Red's brother in a shoot-out that also gravely injuring Red. Lying for nine days in midst of struggle between life and death in this complex villa, he vowed to hunt down L. and weave a labyrinth around him. Red discloses that the first murder was by chance for they were there to loot the gems, but his henchman double crossed and mistakenly killed the rabbi. The rabbi has just written a line on the typewriter. Red got the news that L. investigating the case was certain that the elusive line was linked to the murder. So Red set about justifying that link and killed the next two people on specific days & directions and left behind connecting clues to point to a greater conspiracy fully aware that only L. would see through it and find out that there is fourth piece to the puzzle for there are four directions, the day was the fourth Jewish day, and the Name of God "YHVH" consists of four letters. L. in his bitterness says that such a complex maze was not needed and proposes a easier solution before he is shot dead.

"There are three lines too many in your labyrinth," he said at last. "I know of a Greek labyrinth that is but one straight line. So many philosophers have been lost upon that line that a mere detective might be pardoned if he became lost as well. When you hunt me down in another avatar of our lives, Scharlach, I suggest that you fake (or commit) one crime at A, a second crime at B, eight kilometers from A, then a third crime at C, four kilometers from A and B and halfway between them. Then wait for me at D, two kilometers from A and C, once again halfway between them. Kill me at D, as you are about to kill me at Triste-le-Roy." "The next time I kill you,"Scharlach replied, "I promise you the labyrinth that consists of a single straight line that is invisible and endless."

One way to analyse this story is to read it at its face value as one detective investigation that goes horribly wrong or one can go about delving into the numerous niches and symbols and come up with all kind of fantastical and abstract propositions. This would in fact be the same mistake that L. did. He went about untangling the mystery, but in the act he tangles himself and ultimately the maze consumes him. He sees signs and scheme where there was none to begin with and that becomes his nemesis. Sometimes a rose it just a rose. Sometimes the most easiest explanation is the correct explanation. The form of the truth is its not its simplicity (or lack of it) but its essence. The mere fact that there is so much detail available does not change the substance of the situation or the truth about it.

Humans have this tendency to complicate things, to see it a part of a bigger design or of great game. No doubt world is a complex place with no particular order and whole life generally seems haphazard. But we do not like the idea that we are not in control, that we are not aware of it. We tend to see this randomness as a pattern in a big scheme of things, that is being controlled by someone higher. The idea that no one controlling it is more unravelling than the thought of someone controlling it. Like so many incidents these days (like 9/11) there are always people who go about finding theories and patterns and signs because the fantastical is sometimes more persuasive than the banal. To see the real in middle of all this noise and not misinterpret it or over analyse it and not give it a train of thought where it takes a life of its own. For now we can always take comfort in the fact that even with his lavish over-interpretation L. was able to solve, to prove to us that we can in fact ultimately see through the maze and reach the truth, even if at the cost of losing yourself.

The Cartographer's Surreal Dream

Today is a good day for India. It is not everyday you go about fixing a seventy year old nightmare. And this nightmare was just one of the many nightmares that India is facing. The nightmares I am talking about are the intractable border disputes that India has with pretty much with all its neighbours.

India and Bangladesh signed the Land Border Agreement (LBA) today that fixes the seventy year old monstrosity that has defined their border and made life miserable for people inhabiting these enclaves. I wonder why it took so long to fix a problem that was so idiotic to begin with. For the people living in those enclaves, it is probably an end to uncertainty, end of abandonment, of the state failing to provide even basic services.

Just to give you an idea of how absurd that situation was, check the image below. The area in pink is Bangladesh and inside it is an Indian enclave and inside is it a Bangladesh enclave and inside it is an Indian enclave. Now that is some cartographer's surreal dream. I am pretty sure the situation for people living in these ridiculous enclaves were of dread and not of dream!

Translation - Daayam Pada Huaa Tere Dar Par (Ghalib)

daayam pada huaa tere dar par naheen  hoon main
khaak 'eisee zindagee pe ke patthar naheen hoon main

kyoon gardish-e-mudaam se ghabra na jaaye dil ?
insaan hoon, pyaala-o-saaghar naheen hoon main

yaarab ! zamaana mujhko mitaata hai kis liye ?
loh-e-jahaan pe harf-e-muqarrar naheen hoon main

had chaahiye saza mein uqoobat ke waaste
aakhir gunaahagaar hoon, kaafir naheen hoon main

kis waaste 'azeez naheen jaante mujhe ?
laal-o-zumarrud-o-zar-o-gauhar naheen hoon main

rakhte ho tum qadam meree aankhon se kyun dareh
rutbe mein mehar-o-maah se kamtar naheen hoon main

karte ho mujhko man'a-e-qadam_bos kis liye ?
kya aasmaan ke bhee baraabar naheen hoon main ?

'ghalib' wazifaa_khwaar ho, do shaah ko duaa
 woh din gaye ki kehte the;, "naukar naheen hoon main"

Line 1/2 - I am not always lying on the ground in front of your door. Dust be such a life, for I am not a stone. This is a familiar theme in Ghalib's work. You can nuance it either ways. One way goes that I am not always lying prostate in front of your house for I have self respect and dust be such a life that is spent on such meaning less pursuit for I am a man, not a stone. The other ways says that alas! I am not always lying in front of your door and such a life is worthless for I am not a stone, for the stepping stone always gets to touch the feet of the beloved every day. I wish I had been a stone lying there always!

Line 3/4 - Why would the heart not be anxious by the constant stream of bad luck that I am facing. For I am a human, and not a glass or vessel of wine. Ghalib says why wouldn't the heart be uneasy due to this never-ending and going round & round bad luck. He is after all a human, and not a glass or pitcher of wine that goes around the patrons of the tavern and yet comes out unscathed.

Line 5/6 - Oh God!, why does this world try to erase me. On the tablet of this world, I am not an letter that was repeated. This is Ghalib at its brilliant best. Probably among the best of his lines. harf-e-muqarrar is a letter that is mistakenly written twice during writing and therefore has to be struck off/erased. Ghalib has compared himself to such a wrongly repeated word and said, that the world and passing time is trying to
erase me. But on this face of the earth, in this tablet of the world (that we write with our lives), I am not a letter that is repeated that can be struck off. I am someone who is unique, and someone whom the world needs. I am to be cherished & respected, not to be erased by the passage of time.

Line 7/8 - There needs to be a limit of punishment with respect to the pain and agony. For I am a sinner and wrong-doer but I a not a non-believer. The poet says there should be a limit of punishment for this endless torment is wrong. He is not a infidel that has been sent to the never-ending torture of hell. He is after all a mere sinner and does not warrant such a grave punishment. These lines seem to be addressed to God, but could very well be for the beloved.

Line 9/10 - For what reason, you do not consider me precious. I am not a gem, gold, rubies or precious stones. The poet requests to God, that since you do not consider these gems & stones precious. Why do you not consider me as precious for I am none of these. I am humble and simple unlike the pretentious gems that you do not like. In a sense, I am better than all those things!

Line 11/12 - Why do you hesitate to place your foot on my eyes. In rank or status, I am no less than the sun and moon.O! God you have placed your foot on the sun and moon and they were delighted that you touched them. I am in rank no less than sun and moon and yet, I do not get the pleasure of that.

Line 13/14 - Why do you stop me from kissing your footsteps. Am I not even equal to the sky. Do you not think me worthy enough to kiss your footsteps? The Lord went to the world beyond using the sky as a stepping stone. If the sky can get to kiss your steps, why can't I? Am I not even equal to the sky. The last three verses can be taken together as a poet's hurtful address to the God. He is complaining that he is better than the valuable thing on earth (like gems, gold & stones), of same rank as sun & moon and even equal to the sky and yet I am not allowed of the joy of kissing your feet.

Line 15/16 - Ghalib! pensioner you are, give blessing to the king. Those days are gone now when you used to say, "I am not a servant". Khwaar means eater. Ghalib distresses over his finances and says that earlier he could rebuke anyone for he was not answerable to anyone. But now since he is receiving pension from the king, he is bound to express gratitude to the king by blessing him!

Meaning of difficult words :-
daayam = always
gardish = bad time/luck (revolving)
mudaam = always, eternal.
harf = alphabet
muqarrar = again
uqoobat = pain
laal = a kind of gem
zumurrud = green colored gem
zar = gold
gauhar = gem
mehar = sun
maah = moon
bosa = kiss
wazifaa_khawaar = pensioner

The Rubaiyat : Quatrain XXIII



Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,
Before we too into the Dust descend.
Dust into Dust, and under Dust, to lie,
Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer, and--sans End.

This is the twenty-third quatrain of the FitzGerald's Rubaiyat. The idea in these lines is the same as one in the previous two - XXI and XXII quatrains. That our stay in this world is transitory, so live it while it lasts. The quatrain cautions that make most of your time here, on the face of the earth where you live and can spend time engaging in worldly or non-worldly  pursuits. For we are travelers here with limited time to spend. We too will turn to dust, from where we come. Dust to Dust and under the dirt we lie without the pleasure of wine, without the song and without the company of the singer (companion) and without the end, for death is going to be everlasting.

Translation - Taskin Ko Ham Na Roen (Ghalib)

taskin ko ham na roen jo zauq-e-nazr mile,
huraan-e-khuld mein teri surat magar mile.

apni gali mein mujhko na kar dafan baad-e-qatal,
mere pate se khalaq ko kyon tera ghar mile?

saqi gari ki sharm karo aaj warna ham,
har shab piya hi karte hain, mai jis qadar mile.
             
tujh se to kuchh kalaam nahin lekin ai nadim!
mera salaam kaheyo agar naama-bar mile.
             
tum ko bhi ham dikhaenge majnun ne kya kiya,
fursat kashaakash-e-gham-e-pinhaan se gar mile.
             
laazim nahin ke khizar ki ham pairwi karen,
maana ke ek bazurg hamen ham safar mile.
             
ai saaknaan-e-kucha-e-dildaar dekhna,
tum ko kahin jo ghalib-e-aashufta sar mile.

Line 1/2 - We would not cry over the lack of comfort, if the taste of your sight is available. But for your face be available among the fairies of heaven. The poet says he can put up with grief and hardship, provided a glance of your face is available for that would give me joy. But here even in heaven, I am not at peace for there is no face among the countless hoors that matches your face and other pleasure of heaven don't interest me.

Line 3/4 - Don't bury me in your street after you have killed me.Why should my final resting place be the landmark that leads everyone to your house. The poet says that my grave don't bury me in your street for my grave would become a place to guide unknown travellers to your house. This would bring you ill-repute. People would say, the here is the grave of Ghalib and murderer is also here in the same street. Another way of reading it is in the poet's state of jealousy. Okay you kill me! but don't buy me here for why others use my grave to find your house.

Line 5/6 - You should be ashamed of your cupbearer-ship today. otherwise we still drink every night, however much we get it. The poet says to the bartender, that you should be ashamed of limiting the wine you are providing me, for I pretty much drink every night at my home, whatever I can get. At my home, I have little but still have so much to drink daily and here I am at a tavern but still I am not being provided to heart's content. O! shame on you bartender!

Line 7/8 - I have no question/word for(against) you but my friend!. Say my greetings if you see the messanger. The poet talking to an acquaintance says, that if he meets the messenger tell him that he has no complaints against him, and convey my greeting to him. The messenger probably in his loud rhetoric may have impressed the poet of his skills in eliciting a response from the poet's beloved. But now the messenger seems to have gone missing for he could not get a reply for the beloved. The poet in this bit taunt, says convey to the messenger my greetings.

Line 9/10 - We can also show you what majnun did, but first I should get respite from the dilemma of the hidden grief. The poet say that he could have done what majnun did (i.e. wandering into the desert), But I can not for I am gripped by the internal struggle. My grief is more hidden unlike his and it's a dilemma. I am torn by the complexities of this world, the rigours of life & living. My grief are not on similar plane as majnun.

Line 11/12 - It is not necessary that we follow in the footsteps of the Khizar. We think we have took a respectable and wise elder as a fellow traveller. Khizar is a mystical figure inspiring many sufi saints. The poet says, It's not necessary that we follow him. In the path to True Truth, we will assume that we have acquired a learned fellow traveller with us. In this journey my way is no less important than the Khizar's way.

Line 13/14 - O! residents living in the street of my beloved, keep an eye, for you may run into Ghalib somewhere there with his disordered head. The poet says, people living in the street of the beloved, look out for you could find the love crazed and mad Ghalib! What a sight it will be!

Meaning of difficult words -
taskin - satisfaction, comfort
zauq - taste
huraan - hoors (fairy)
khuld - paradise
khalaq - world, all creations
mai = wine
saaqi-gaari = bartender
kaalam = word, composition
naadim = friend
naama-bar = messenger
kashaakash = struggle, dilemma, perplexity
pinhaan = hidden, concealed
saakinaan = dwellers,residents
kucha - street
aashuftaa_sar = mentally deranged

The Rubaiyat : Quatrain XXII









And we, that now make merry in the Room
They left, and Summer dresses in new Bloom,
Ourselves must we beneath the Couch of Earth
Descend, ourselves to make a Couch--for whom?









This is the twenty-second quatrain of the Rubaiyat. The continuity of the theme of previous quatrains continues. The quatrain says that while we currently are engaged in mirth and fun in this world, they (the best and the loveliest mentioned in the last quatrain) they have left us and passed on to the nether world. The summer is in the bloom now, and must soon we also descend to death to make room for the next generations to wander around on this earth whom we do not know now. We came and we went and some else comes along and the arrow of time moves on, waiting for none!

Translation - Az Mehar Taa Bah Zarrah (Ghalib)

az mehar taa bah zarrah dil o dil hai aaiinah
tootee ko shash jihat se muqabil hai aaiinah
 
Line 1/2 - From the sun to the grain of sand, they are all hearts and the heart is the mirror. The parrot is confronted by the mirror from the six directions. Like with Ghalib's work a million strands can be made out. Every thing you see around, the unremarkable and small grain of sand to the unique and majestic sun. Everything is a heart. The whole world is a heart and the heart is a mirror. The parrot in the cage is confronted on all the six sides by the mirror, he is confronted by his heart. He is confronted by the world. Whichever way he turns, he can not hide away from the mirror. He has to confront it, in it he sees his heart, his consciousness, and in his heart he realises his external reality. He becomes aware. Looking in (into yourself) is the only way to look out, to comprehend the extent of the universe and your relationship with it. The parrot speaks after looking into the mirror seeing his image. In the same way, our heart is our way of communicating to our external reality. The heart is part of the world, and at the same time the heart shows the image of the world (reflects it). The Self and the Universe are one each reflecting on one other by the act of looking into (Mirror)

Meaning of difficult words :-
az = from/then/by
mehar = sun
taa = to
bah = sand
zarrah = atom, particle
shash = six
jihat = direction
tootee = bird (could be a parrot)
muqabil = confronting, opposing

Translation - Dost Gamkhvari Mein Meri Sai (Ghalib)

dost gamkhvari mein meri sai farmavenge kya
zakhm ke bharne talak nakhun na badh javenge kya

beniyazi had se guzri banda paravar kab talak
hum kahenge hal-e-dil aur aap farmavenge kya

hazarat-e-naseh gar aayen didah-o-dil farsh-e-rah
koi mujh ko ye to samajha do ki samajhavenge kya

aj van teg-o-kafan bandhe hue jata hun main
uzr mera qatl karne mein wo ab lavenge kya

gar kiya naseh ne hum ko qaid acha yon sahi
ye junun-e-ishq ke andaz chhut javenge kya

khana zad-e-zulf hain zanjir se bhagenge kya
hain giraftar-e-vafa zindan se ghabaravenge kya

hai ab is mamure mein kahat-e-gam-e-ulfat asad
hum ne ye mana ki dilli mein rahe khavenge kya

Meaning of difficult words
gamkhvari - grief-eating
sai - help
farmavenge - to give advise or say informally
beniyazi - indifference/freedom from want
paravar - nourisher
naseh - advisor
didah-o-dil - eyes and heart.
farsh-e-rah - carpet in the path
teg - sword
uzr - objection, excuse
zad-e-zulf - slave of curls
khana - house
zindan- prison
mamure - an inhabited place
kahat - drought
ulfat - affection

Line 1/2 - In my state of affliction/sorrow and friends comforting me, what help would my friend attempt to administer. By the time my wounds fill up and heal, wouldn't my fingernails grow up again? Ghalib in his brilliant best says, in this my state of sorrow and discomfort, what informal advise or help can my friends offer? Maybe they will tell me to cut my finger nails so that I can not scratch my wounds. But what good would come from that? Before my wounds heals, my finger nails would have grown again and I would again be back scratching my wounds. The lover mocks that in this state of his, friends are of no help!

Line 3/4 - The indifference has passed the limits, Oh Cherisher of servants, till when? We tell the state of our heart and you indifferently say - what? The lover says that the indifference of his beloved has passed the limits now. Till when? The beloved is referred in an honorific title as the protectors of followers. The lover opens his heart out and she says - what? as if inattentive and not even listening to the pleas of the lover.

Line 5/6 - If his lordship the advisor would come to me, I would lay down my eyes and heart out like a carpet in his path. Someone explain to me then - what will he explain? Again the lover mocks the helpful and well meaning advisors and says that he respects them highly, but tell me what they will explain to me? what can they advise me to help me lessen the pain of my sorrow?

Line 7/8 - Today, I go there having tied my sword and the shroud. What excuse will she put up now for not killing me. The lover says today I have resolved myself to die having a sword and a kafan (shroud) wrapped around my head as I head towards her place. What excuse she will have today for not killing me? I have the sword which she can use to slay me, besides I am ready for my death and have come prepared for it.

Line 9/10 - If the Advisor would imprison us, then al right, so be it! These shades of the madness of love and passion - will these also be let go of. Would these leave us? Ghalib says that even if the advisor imprisons us, the shades and temperament of my madness would not go away. I will still wear them even if you imprison my body. This madness is my dress and my reward for my passion.

 Line 11/12 - I belong to the house of slaves of curls. Why will I run away from chains. I am a captive of faithfulness, why would I be afraid of prison. The lover says that he belongs to a house which is slave to the curls. Here the curls of hair akin to the chains. So why would I run away from the chains. I am in them already. Also I am captive to faithfulness and hence does not need to fear prison as I am already a prisoner.

Line 13/14 - There is now in this place, a drought or scarcity of the grief of love, Asad! We have agreed to this that we will remain in Dilli, but what will we eat? Ghalib says in this place there is a scarcity of the grief of love, in fact there is no love for where there is love there has to be grief of love as well. And we are so used to eating grief of love and living by it that though we can live in this place, but what are we going to eat? for there is no grief here! In this city there is no passion, no lovers and no beloveds.

The Rubaiyat : Quatrain XXI








Lo! some we loved, the loveliest and the best
That Time and Fate of all their Vintage prest,
Have drunk their Cup a Round or two before,
And one by one crept silently to Rest.










This is the twenty-first quatrain of the FitzGerald's Rubaiyat. This quatrain as like so many that came earlier tells us that the same fate awaits us all. Look at all the people some we loved, some the loveliest of people we ever met and other the best of people. The best of them were prepared by the working of the Time and of the Fate. Even these very best, will all eventually die having drank from their cup of fortunes.And slowly one by one all will silently creep to the eventual rest, even the loveliest and the best. The Fate of all is same. As someone truly sad - "After the game is over, the king and the pawn go into the same box."

Borges : The Theme of the Traitor and the Hero (Summary)

This is another impressive work by Borges where he conceives a short two page detective story. He mentions the setting are unimportant, the plot could well be in any country, at any times. The story is told by a narrator named Ryan who is great grandson of heroic Irish resistance leader Kilpatrick who was mysteriously killed. Ryan attempts to uncover the truth regarding his death. Some things to him regarding his death seem cyclical as if to repeat events from different places and times, from history and from literature. Like a unopened letter warning Kilpatrick of the plot (similar to Caesar) and other events that appeared repeated from story of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. These parallels led Ryan to "imagine some secret shape of time, a pattern of repeating lines." He also toys with the idea that before Kilpatrick was Kilpatrick, he was Julius Caesar. Further details plunge Ryan into yet more deeper maze. Certain events on the day the hero died seems to have been picked up from the Macbeth. "The idea that history might have copied history is mind-boggling enough; that history should copy literature is inconceivable". Also known is the fact that a close comrade of Kilpatrick named Nolan had translated works of Shakespeare besides written a piece on "Festspiele which is a vast traveling theatrical performances that require thousands of actors and retell historical episodes in the same cities, the same mountains in which they occurred". It was also revealed that Kilpatrick signed a death sentence to a unnamed traitor just days before death. Ryan ultimately discovers that the killing was staged and entire plot was executed over many days in which entire city placed the role of theater. The actual sequence of events are this - the resistance leaders meet and realize that they have a traitor in their midst. Kilpatrick gives Nolan the task of uncovering the traitor. Nolan proves beyond doubt that the traitor was Kilpatrick himself. The leader signs his own death sentence, but pleads that his punishment should not harm the cause. So Nolan devised a plan where Kilpatrick's execution by unknown assassins would rally the support for the rebellion. Nolan being short on time, plagiarizes the scenes from Caesar and Macbeth and this act is played out over multiple days in the entire city. Each act of the traitor is carefully choreographed, hundreds of actors are involved. The act ended with the traitor-hero being shot by unknown assailants. "Ryan suspected that the author interpolated them so that someone, in the future, would be able to stumble upon the truth. Ryan realized that he, too, was part of Nolan’s plot.... After long and stubborn deliberation, he decided to silence the discovery. He published a book dedicated to the hero’s glory; that too, perhaps, had been foreseen."

In this crisp story the lines between reality and fiction are obscured and blurred. Each real day and it's events are played out as an act, each moment of the reality is at the same time is a moment of fiction as well. The falsehood is planned in such detail and such scheme that in close observation the truth could be realized and the truth is again to be buried. Not only does the life imitates the art, falsehood actually replaces the reality. In this falsehood itself somewhere lies hidden the reality waiting to be discovered and to be lost again. Also the difference between reality and drama is not absolute, neither is the difference between the hero and the traitor. Both are hostage to perception and the act of investigation. The truth play out irrespective of they are being perceived correctly or not. Is it the truth, the complete truth? What if I do not understand it? Would it still be the truth. It becomes a prisoner to the Observer. The act of perceiving defines what the truth is. It is similar to a idea that "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" What looks to be an dramatic act on a wider stage to Ryan may appear to be truth by someone else who has access to more or less layers of information about the events than Ryan had. Alternate levels of realities each deeper than the other may exist depending on how many layers you unravel. There is no end to the layers and each one adding more detail to the whole plot.Besides the indifference to the place and timings, the generalization of details tells us the universality of the theme.

The Rubaiyat : Quatrain XX









Ah, my Beloved, fill the Cup that clears
To-day of past Regrets and future Fears--
To-morrow?--Why, To-morrow I may be
Myself with Yesterday's Sev'n Thousand Years.
 








This is the twentieth quatrain of "The Rubaiyat". The poet says O! my beloved, fill this cup of mine with that intoxicating wine. It cheers my heart and clears and helps me forget the regrets of the past and makes me unaware of the fear of the future (as to what lies ahead). This wine animates me and makes me forget the past and the future. Why the future? Because tomorrow my beloved, I may be dead. I may be what I was seven thousand years ago (a lump of lifeless rock, the poet assumes that life started seven thousand years). The motif of the quatrain being enjoying the present for tomorrow no one knows, we may be dead and consequently a relic of past. 

Translation - Zindagi Apni Jab Is Shakl (Ghalib)

zindagi apni jab is shakl se guzrii Ghalib
hum bhi kya yaad karenge ki khuda rakhte thein

Line 1/2 -  When my life passed in this shape Ghalib, will we even remember that we used to have a God? The poet says when this life of ours was passing in such bad circumstances, will be even remember that we used to have a God. In the misery of my situation, will I remember that we were once in His hands? He forged the good times for us, and now the bad times are also His ways. But will we remember Him?

There can be multiple ways in which these lines can be understood. Another possible stream of thought can be how earlier we have seen better days under Him, but now in these bad circumstances, He has abandoned us.Yet another can be that when the bad times come, we will remember that we had a God and this bad fate is also His workings.

Photo Of The Day

christ church cathedral, newcastle

fort scratchley, newcastle

Translation - Ug Raha Hai Dar-o-Deewar (Ghalib)

ug raha hai dar-o-deewar se sabzah ghalib
ham bayabaan mein hein aur ghar mein bahar aai hai.

Meaning of difficult words -
sabzah: greenery
bayabaan: wilderness

Line 1/2 - Greenery is growing out of the doors and the walls Ghalib!. We am in the wilderness and springs has arrived at my home. Ghalib says that he is in the wilderness having abandoned his home to the elements. Greenery is shooting out of his home. The weeds and grass grows all over his abandoned home now while he roams in the wilderness. These weeds give a semblance of the arrival of spring at his home. Absolute beauty of words!!


Another interpretation being since he has has left his home and lost in desolation, there is spring now at his home. (irony as well) He is such lost in his mind that he compares the slow destruction of his house (by growing weeds) to arrival of spring. The poet has gone mad for he compares the signs of abandonment at his home with the arrival of the life giving spring for how could a sane person compare slow destruction with life giving spring. Such is the wilderness and desolation of the Self.

The Rubaiyat : Quatrain XIX










And this delightful Herb whose tender Green
Fledges the River's Lip on which we lean--
Ah, lean upon it lightly! for who knows
From what once lovely Lip it springs unseen!








This is the nineteenth quatrain of "The Rubaiyat". The broad idea being the same as one in the previous quatrain. Look at this tender and pleasing green grass which cover the sides of the river's bank on which we leisurely lean. Tread on this grass lightly my dear! for who knows, what once lovely peoples now lay underneath who springs forth this lush greenery. As with last quatrain where the dead underneath makes the rose and hyacinth come up bright and brilliant. In this one the lush green grass besides the river, lean on it lightly for we do not know what lovely person lay buries underneath that springs these lush herbs.

Thought Of The Day

For those who know Kierkegaard, this BBC documentary is an exemplary take on the times and lives of this brilliant philosopher.

 

"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards."



"Once you label me you negate me."