Translation - Ye Na Thi Hamari Kismat (Ghalib)

ye na thee hamaaree qismat ke wisaal-e-yaar hota
agar aur jeete rehte yahee intezaar hota

tere waade par jiye ham to ye jaan jhoot jaanaa
ke khushee se mar na jaate agar 'eitabaar hota

teree naazukee se jaana ki bandha tha 'ehed_booda
kabhee too na tod sakta agar oostuwaar hota

koee mere dil se pooche tere teer-e-neemkash ko
ye khalish kahaan se hotee jo jigar ke paar hota

ye kahaan ki dostee hai ke bane hain dost naaseh
koee chaarasaaz  hota, koee ghamgusaar hota

rag-e-sang se tapakta wo lahoo ki fir na thamta
jise gham samajh rahe ho, ye agar sharaar hota

gham agarche jaan_gulis hai, pe kahaan bachain ke dil hai
gham-e-ishq gar na hota, gham-e-rozgaar  hota

kahoon kis se main ke kya hai, shab-e-gham buree bala hai
mujhe  kya  bura  tha  marna ? agar ek  baar hota

hue mar ke ham jo ruswa, hue kyon na gharq-e-dariya
na  kabhee janaaza  uthata, na  kaheen mazaar hota

usse kaun  dekh  sakta  ki yagaana  hai wo yaktaa
jo dooee ki boo bhee hotee to kaheen do chaar hota

ye masaail-e-tasawwuf, ye tera bayaan 'Ghalib' !
tujhe ham walee samajhate, jo na baada_khwaar hota

Meaning of difficult words -
wisaal-e-yaar = meeting with lover
'eitabaar = trust/confidence
'ehed = oath
boda = not strong
oostuwaar = firm/determined
teer-e-neemkash = half drawn arrow
khalish = pain
naaseh = counselor
chaarasaaz = healer
ghamgusaar = sympathizer
rag = nerve
sang = stone
sharaar = flash/gleam
jaan_gulis = life threatening
ruswa = disgraced
gharq = drown/sink
yagaana = unique
yaktaa = matchless/incomparable
dooee = duality
masaail = topics
tasawwuf = mysticism
walee = prince/friend
baada_khwaar = boozer

Line 1/2 - It was not my destiny that there would be a union with my beloved. If I had lived further on, there would have been this same waiting (waiting for his beloved). Ghalib in this seemingly simple lines says he was never destined for a meeting with his beloved. Had I lived on, this wait would have been the same. The poet says he is dead now, but had he lived, the situation would not have been different. This can be interpreted both as a defeatist as well as hopeful. My waiting would have been same even if I had lived on, for it was never destined (negative). The same reading can also mean that my wait would have been same had I not died (hopeful).

Line 3/4 - I lived by on your promise, be aware my love! that this statement is false. I would have died of happiness had I believed in it (on your promise). Ghalib here says to his beloved that don't fool yourself with the thoughts that I live by your promise. But then in a sharp u-turn he rescinds and explains that he would have died of happiness way earlier if he had believed in it. The tone here is not to affront her, but to show a light defiance to his beloved. Like take it easy dear!, I would have died the moment you would have promised had I believed in it. So don't kid your self with the thought that I live by your promise. A swaggering beauty by Ghalib!

Line 5/6 - I understood from your delicateness that your promise is loosely tied, for you could not have broken it had it been strong. The poet continuing with the haughty mood of the previous lines says your delicateness and fickleness which in the first place attracted me has made me realize your unreliable nature of those promises that you have made to me. Those promises would never have broken had they been strong. Compared to last couplet where he took a light dig at his beloved, this sher is a more caustic take on his beloved. He is literally accusing her of not being serious in the relationship and just making promises for the sake of it.

Line 7/8 - Someone should ask my heart about your half drawn arrow. Where would this pain have come from if it had gone through the liver? The half drawn arrow is an arrow that was shot with not full force. Here they are analogy for the slight and subtle glances of his beloved. Ghalib says ask my heart about her subtle glances that she fires at me. They are like sharp arrows going through my body and I am in pain now since it has not gone through the liver completely. Had it gone through the liver, I would have been long dead. Ask my heart about your arrow for it will be able to tell you about it since it is suffering for my liver can not produce enough blood (for the heart to pump) as it is injured.

Line 9/10 - What kind of friendship is this, where the friends have now become counselor. If only there were some healer, if only there was some sympathizer. The poet says what sort of friendships is this. I am looking for friends who sympathize with me, friends who provide a healing touch to my misery (caused by rigors of my feelings towards my beloved), Instead of being empathizing friends, they have all become counselors and advisers who are advising him to desist from pursuing his beloved (probably). Where are those healers and soothers for my friends now advocate me instead of providing a helping shoulder.

Line 11/12 - The blood that is dripping from the veins of the stone, it will not stop. That thing which you are thinking of as grief, if it was a spark. This is not very clear to come by. The scheme being used here is as on hitting the heart it sheds blood, in a same way hitting the stone will fire sparks. One plausible explanation could be, had all this pain that is in my heart been like a spark then it would have not stopped emitting from the stone every time you hit it. The spark emitted by stones striking is never ending and so is the grieving within my heart.

Line 13/14 - Although grief is life threatening, but there is no escape for it's the heart. If it would not have been the lament of the indifferent love, then there would have been the sorrow of daily bringing in enough to survive in this world. The poet says I know that this grief (due to the unappreciated love by his beloved) is deadly, but then i can't escape for I have a heart. Had I not been been bogged down by the grieving, It would have been stuck with the problems of day to day living and the misery it brings.

Line 15/16 - To whom should I say what it is, this night of grief is a distressing experience. Why would I complain of dying, if it had occurred to me only once. Ghalib laments about the nights of separation with his beloved and says to whom should he complain about these nights and what a terrible experience to undergo them alone and away from my lover. I have no qualms about dying if it was to happen only once. These nights of separation from you is like a dying experience from me that comes everyday unlike dying which only haven once. I am willing to die, if only it comes once.

Line 17/18 - I was disgraced after my death, why did not I drown in the sea/river. There would have been no funeral for me, nor there would have been a grave anywhere. The poet says on death I was discredited (the reason not obvious here), why did I not drown in a river instead? In that case, there would have been no funeral nor any grave built for me someplace. The point being that having no funeral would avoid all kind of indiscreet and unflattering talk that would happen in the ceremony and no grave means that there will no place which will remind people of his ignominy. His passing away would be blotted out from people's mind and that would save him uncomplimentary talk.

Line 19/20 - This is the most complex and most fascinating of all. It is like an onion, the more you peel the more there is underneath. The poet says Who can see him, for the Incomparable One is unique. If there was even a hint of duality, then there would have a meeting somewhere sometime (or then there would be many-more existing). The word "do-chaar" itself introduces a duality there. One meaning can be - Who can see him, for He the Matchless One is unique. The Maker is singular, which makes him so difficult to see for only one exists. (Can also be interpreted as a possible satire on invisibility of the God, providing God an excuse for his indifference to show Himself to his admirers). If the Creator would have been two then the poet might have come across Him somewhere. One more obtuse interpretation (I read somewhere) is if there was duality indeed, then the Almighty might have come face to face with himself somewhere and then he would have truly empathized with us and tasted his own medicine i.e. realized how people feel about his capricious and indifference that they are submitted to. Another interpretation is (I like this the most), that if there was trace of duality in His aspect, then there could well be more. The poet says that there is One God only, and if there was indeed a whiff of duality then there could well be more then two. Why only two, why not more. If we do not accept it being Singular, then why do we accept its duality. It can very well be many. The "do-char hota" in every day conversation manner can be meant both as to come across or many in number (not a definite count).

Line 21/22 - Oh! these topics of mysticism and those words that you say, Ghalib. We would have considered you as our chief had you not been a boozer. The poet in a classic tone of hauteur says all these complex matters/themes of reality and supernal truth and your spoken words Ghalib. We would have regarded you as a chief/lord had you not been a wine drinker that you are. Consider the poet closing his ghazal with such skilled and subtle disdain that Ghalib has all the answers for the ultimate reality of this mortal world, but lets not patronize him as a head for he is a drinker.

13 comments:

  1. Thank you! For this translation in a language so different than that of Ghalib

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  2. Teer-e-neem kash translates to a "half drawn bow". Although, in Farsi, Teer can be used for both the bow as well as the arrow.

    now neem means half.
    Q: What time is it? Farsi - Sahat chi ast?
    A: Chahr-o-neem. (half past four)


    kash means pull
    eg. Cigarette ki kash lagana.
    also, Kashidakari - embroidery

    Hence teer-e-neem kash
    Half drawn bow.

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  3. Thank you! Keep up the amazing work my friend!

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  4. Thank you ..Keep posting ..good work ..

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  5. Tremendous. Its only after knowing the full meaning can one judge the depth of this superb ghazal by Galib and without your help it was almost impossible.. Keep up the good work..

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  6. Tremendous. Its only after knowing the full meaning can one judge the depth of this superb ghazal by Galib and without your help it was almost impossible.. Keep up the good work..

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  7. This is awesome. Thank you!! :)

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  8. Good work indeed! Comprehensive n lucid. Generally most of the translators give meanings of easy words, which We know already, while skipping difficult ones. You have given meanings of all difficult words. Translation is top notch too.

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