Translation - Dard Minnat Kash-e-Dawa Na Hua (Ghalib)

dard  minnat_kash-e-dawa  na  huaa
main na achchaa huaa, bura na huaa

Line 1/2 - The pain has not obliged to the medicine. I have not become well, have not become bad. The poet's unusual use of "obligation to medicine" emphasizes that a fact that taking favors will make him indebted to it. It is good that I am no better, no worse from the medicine. Otherwise I would have been indebted to medicine if i recovered my health and I do not want to be indebted to anyone. I do not want favors from anyone.

jama'a karate ho kyon raqeebon ko ?
ik  tamaasha  huaa  gila na  huaa

Line 3/4 - Why are you collecting together the opponents. One spectacle happened, a complaint did not happen. The poet says to her beloved, why do you collect together my rivals? If you had complaints you could have told me in-person. Why did you tell it in front of my rivals.. Now your complaints will no longer be complaints, it will be turned into a unique spectacle in which these opponents of mine will derive pleasure from your complaints against me and pass judgments and critical advise on me. I wished you had avoided this spectacle.

ham kahaan qismat aazmaane jaayain ?
too hee jab khanjar aazma  na huaa

Line 5/6 - Where do we go and try out (test) our destiny? You yourself when are not a dagger testing (muster passing the dagger test). Here couple of interpretations are possible. The poet is saying about himself, that he was failed in the test to slay himself, so where should he go now to fulfill his longing of dying. Where should he try out his destiny? The other possible meaning is the lover is referring to his beloved, that you failed in the dagger test. You were unable to kill me. Now where should he go now to get killed?

kitne sheereen hain tere lab ! ki raqeeb
gaaliyaan  khaake  be_maza   na  huaa

Line 7/8 - How sweet are your lips. That the rivals. Having eaten abuses/curses, they have not become less-delightful! The poet says to her beloved that your lips are so sweet that even abuses and curses coming out of them for the rivals is being eaten by them readily and they do not seem to be any less delightful.

hai  khabar garm  unke  aane kee
aaj hee ghar mein boriya na huaa !

Line 9/10 - There is fresh news about their coming. Today itself, in the home there is no straw mat. The poet says I got some news about their coming. I heard my beloved or divine is going to visit me. And today itself, there is not even a straw mat in the house. This is the state of my home and its my utter lack of possessions. And this was to happen today! why today? when I do not even have a welcome mat nor I can somehow arrange for it now! Such is the state of my poverty of possessions that I could only think of the straw mat not being there in my house today!

kya woh namrood kee khudaaee thee
bandagee mein tera bhala na huaa

Line 11/12 - Was that the divinity of namrood? In devotion/service, your welfare did not happen. namrood was a king that claimed that he Is God and hence the words 'namrood kee khudaaee' is commonly used for false claims to divinity. The poet referring to her beloved says that my devotion has not paid off, It did me no good for she does not care about my service. Wasn't her behavior like the divinity of namrood? It is all falsehood and not what they claim. She is just like a false good namrood and my faith in her did me no good.

jaan dee, dee  huee usee  ki thee
haq to ye hai ke haq adaa na huaa

Line 13/14 - Gave my life, given to me by Him alone. The truth is like this that the right/claim did not get fulfilled.(or was not returned). These are best lines in the ghazal in my opinion. The poet says that I gave up my life,  which was in fact given to me by You only. The truth is that, the right was not fulfilled. I gave up my life, I sacrificed it (for reason unknown - maybe in God's path) . But what is so great in it? The life was itself blessed to me by You alone and it went back to You only. The truth is that I was blessed with life to live it. to exist! but the debt was not repaid as I just ran away from living. Life is to be lived and lived rightly for the debt to be paid back otherwise what is big deal about sacrificing yourself in His path. One is just giving back that was He was given earlier.

zakhm gar dab gaya, lahoo na thama
kaam  gar  ruk  gaya  ravaa na huaa

Line 15/16 - If the wound was pressed, the blood did not stop. If the work was stopped, then it did not move on. This are not very approachable lines, here is my take on it. The poet says that when I press my wound, the blood should have stopped.  But it does not and the wound keeps bleeding. And if the work (the work of pressing the wound) was stopped then the blood itself stopped flowing through my body. There is no way out of the misery, either I bleed myself to death by pressing the wound or my blood stops flowing when I stop pressing my wound. In either case, I die!

rahzanee hai  ki dil_sitaanee  hai ?
leke dil, dil_sitaan  ravaanah huaa

Line 17/18 - Highway robbery is it or is it stealing of the heart? Taking the heart, the stealer of heart moves on!. The poet asks is it highway robbery or the theft of his heart? The beloved stops, steals his heart and then moves away quickly. It does not look like she was here to steal my heart and play with it and torture me. Instead it appears like a crime. This does not look like taking my heart, it felt like a plain highway robbery.

kuchch to padhiye ki log kehte hain
"aaj  'ghalib'  ghazalsara na  huaa"

Line 19/20 - Do read something for people are saying. Today ghalib did not become a ghazal-singer. The poet says even in his leisurely hours in company of common folk or when he is not in a particular mood for word-play, people ask him to recite something for they ask how come today ghalib is not at his best (i.e. being a ghazal singer). People have come to expect the best lines from me and If someday I don't give them, they egg me to speak something.

Meaning of difficult words :-
minnat = favour, kindness
minnat_kash-e-dawa = obliged to medicine
raqeeb = opponent
gila = complaint
khanjar = dagger
sheereen = sweet
boriya = mat, mat made of jute/palm-leaves
namrood = an old king who used to say that he was god
ravaa = move on
rahzanee = highway robbery
dil_sitaan = stealer of heart
ghazalsara = singer of ghazals

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The Rubaiyat: Quatrain XXVIII


With them the Seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with my own hand labour'd it to grow;
And this was all the Harvest that I reap'd--
"I came like Water, and like Wind I go."

This is the twenty-eight quatrain of the Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat. Khayyam says through my curious and reasoned mind and spirit, I have soon learned the ways of the world and beyond. The seeds of wisdom that were sown in me and with my own labour, the crop that I had sown is ready to be harvested. The harvest being the life being lived. This 'harvest' being reaped is like flowing water and blowing winds. Ever changing, formless and full of movement. I came to this word like water and will leave it like a wind. Both forces following the laws of nature and I would be like that. Nothing is permanent, even the winds and the water keep changing.. and so will I.. Here I come and lo! its time to leave already. 

Translation - Qarz Ki Piite Thae Mai Lekin Samajthe (Ghalib)

ham se khul jaao ba-vaqt-e-mai-parastii ek din
varna ham chedenge rakh kar uzr-e-masti ek din

Line 1/2 - Be frank (open) to us when we are drinking wine one day. Otherwise, we will tease you putting forward the excuse of intoxication one day. The poet says to the beloved, be frank (or behave informally) with us one day when we are drinking wine. You have the excuse of being drunk if anyone complains about your behavior. Otherwise if you do not do what I say, some day I will tease you under the excuse of intoxication and you would not be able to complain to others as people would just say ignore the drunk, he is not in his senses to know what he is doing!

gharrah-e-auj-e-binaa-e-aalam-e-imkaan naa ho
is bulandi ke nasibon mein hai pasti ek din

Line 3/4 - Do not be proud of zenith of the foundation of the world of possibility. In the fortunes (destiny) of such heights, there is lowness, one day.  The poet says do not be proud of the success and the high point of basis/base of the world of possibility.  Do not fool yourself with the success of this new world order. In the end of even this high success, lies oblivion one day. Everything that rises will fall one day. The use of four izafat (-e-) in the first line makes it quite complex to comprehend.

qarz ki piite thae mai lekin samajthe thae ki haan
rang lavegi haamari faaqah-mastii ek din

Line 5/6 - We used to drink wine on borrowed money, but we understood that yes,  some day our cheerfulness in adversity will come to color (to come to fruition). The poet says that I am used to drinking wine on borrowed money. I can't stop this habit of mine. But we always used to think that yes, this habit of mine (this wine induced cheerfulness under the distress of poverty and debt) will some day come to come to bear fruit. Some day, it will bring to color. (maybe the poet blushes and turn red under the humiliation that the debt collector will throw at us). Another possible interpretation could be that we used to drink on debt, but still realize that one day his cheerfulness under distress will be rewarded and bore fruit.

naghma-ha-e-gham ko bhi ai dil ghanimat jaaniye
be-saada ho jayega ye saaz-e-hasti ek din

Line 7/8 - Know the song of grief too, O! heart, at least consider that to be good luck. This instrument of existence will be voiceless one day. This is such brilliant lines. The poet says, know the songs of grief too.. for they are just the other side of songs of joy which you already know. They both are part of life and you should consider yourself fortunate for knowing the grief as after grief there is always going to be joy. One day when the existence of self is erased, all these songs would end and instrument of existence will produce no sound thereafter.

dhaul-dhappa us saarapaa-naaz ka shevah nahin
ham hi kar baithe thae ghalib pesh-dasti ek din

Line 9/10 - The one who is completely playful (flirtatious from head to toe) is not in habit of fighting. We ourselves have done it before hand, Ghalib one day. The lover defends her beloved against accusations that she is uncivil and crude. The poet says that she is not like that, the one covered from head to toe with playfulness. She is not the one who has habit of a fighting. It was my mistake one day, for I started it by by hitting her. It is I who had done it before she did it.

Meaning of difficult words :-
mai = wine
ba-vaqt-e-mai-parastii = at the time of wine drinking
uzr-e-masti = playfulness under the excuse of intoxication
gharrah = proud, vanity
auj = summit, highest point
binaa = foundation, structure
aalam = world, state
imkaan = possibility
pasti = lowness
faaqah-mastii = cheerfulness in adversity
ghanimat = good luck
be-saada = voiceless
saaz-e-hasti = music of life, instrument of existence
dhaul-dhappa = fight, fighting with hands
saarapaa = from head to toe
naaz = amorous playfulness, flirting
shevah = habit, practice
pesh-dasti = anticipation 

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Thought Of The Day

God's particle unknown and heavier relative is close to being discovered!

The brilliant minds at CERN are rechecking their data on this for now. It has been a while since Higgs boson was confirmed by CERN. At that time it was called the God's particle in the media. Now CERN is running particle beams at 6.5 trillion electron volt (TeV) per beam, nearly double the energy of the beam they were used to find the elusive Higgs boson. With updated hardware and double the energy, they have just discovered a bump in the data. Bump! Now that is a quaint word. It has a nice little ring to it as if master Yoda from star wars discovered an anomaly in the Force. The CERN experiment's idea being as beam's TeV rise, the more energy gets converted into mass and by Einstein famous equation, the heavier particle gets released and this is recorded as a bump. By the way, CERN can go all the way to 13 TeV so by the time CERN is exhausted of it capability, God's particle may have a new family by then.. Each unique and infinitely fascinating with a story to tell.. God should be proud of Himself...

"How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, 'This is better than we thought! The universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed.' Instead they say, 'No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.' " 
-- Carl Sagan 

Satre: No Exit (Summary)

After a long while away from reading, I just finished Jean Paul Satre' play 'No Exit'. The play is famous for the iconic and often quoted lines "hell is other people". The setting of this short play is a closed room that depicts three people who have just been condemned to hell after their death.

The play starts with a valet guiding a man to a brightly lit room that is afterwards locked from outside. The room has no mirrors or windows. The room is always lit with no switch to turn off the bulb. Two more women are led to the room by the valet. We are told that the dwellers of this room can no longer sleep or even close their eyelids. A bell is provided (to call the valet) but it does not ring. All the three people ask the valet about the official torturer or torture devices. The valet reassures them that whatever they have heard down on earth about this place (hell) is all wrong. After the valet leaves and the three have been locked, an informal conversation is stuck between them. Each feigning ignorance on why they have been damned to hell and provides false stories as to why they are here. Estelle (one of the women locked here along with Garcin and Ines) mocks the rest to tell the real reason on why they are here and stop fooling around. All the three open up, but find out that they can not make the other person not judge then. Even a small sigh, innocent face expression or even silence conveys something about their actions or the lack of it. Soon it becomes a noisy circus with seduction and indifference and jealousy among them. They soon realize that they have been placed together to make the other two miserable. They are the official torturer of each other. Garcin at this moment cries out "Hell is - other people". Estelle fed up with this acrimony, picks up a paper knife and stabs Ines only to realize that they are already dead. The play ends with laughter with they realizing that they are in it all together and forever!

Satre does convey his existential themes in this play. Each character though 'free' is still shackled by their thoughts on what and how other people are going to judge their actions. They are too caught up in it. This constant need for having to please others (or seeks approval from others) inhibits his or her own actions and choice. Instead of being free to make a choice and act on it as a free man, a person is bound by others making a choice for him or he deciding by playing to the gallery and making choice which gets the loudest applause. Thus in essence the freedom is lost. A free person makes a choice totally based on merit but instead this constant urge to be accepted (to fit in) and struggle to blend in is what ultimately will lead to despair with free will and inherent human independent nature conflicts with the ideas (or expectation) of society, family or peers. This constant struggle, anxiety and despair is our Hell on earth!

The Rubaiyat: Quatrain XXVII


Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
About it and about: but evermore
Came out by the same Door as in I went.

This is the twenty-seventh quatrain of the Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat. The poet says when he was young and eager to learn the ways of the world, he would keep going from one doctor to another, from one saint to another. He frequented to doors of the learned men (doctor) and to the spiritual men (saint) and heard great arguments and words from them about "it" and "about". The arguments were high sounding about any topic that I could throw at them. But the discourse with these were of not much help. In the end, he came out of the same door as he went in. He is back to the same question and to the same place as earlier.  

Translation - Meherabaan Hoke Bula Lo Mujhe (Ghalib)

meherabaan  hoke  bula  lo mujhe  chaaho  jis  waqt
main gaya waqt naheen hoon ke fir aa bhee na sakoon

Line 1/2 - Be kind and call me at any time you want. I am not time that has passed that I can not come back again. Such a simple and an extremely eloquent lines and easy on the tongue. The poet says be kind and caring, you can give me a call any time for I am not passed time that I can not return. I may be unhappy with you or in grief but if you call me lovingly and kindly, I will return your call.

zauf  mein  taana-e-aghayaar  ka  shikawa  kya  hai ?
baat kuchch sar to naheen hai ke utha bhee na sakoon

Line 3/4 - In weakness, what complaint is there of the taunt of the enemy.What was said is not some head that I can not lift/bear it up. The poet says, in this state of weakness that I am in, What can I say (complain about) about the taunts of the enemy. I am weak, but I can endure. Their words are not head which I can not carry. In my current state, I can not even lift my head due to weakness, but their taunts are okay. They are not as heavy as my head.

zehar  milta  hee naheen  mujhko  sitamgar,  warana
kya qasam hai tere milne kee, ke kha bhee na sakoon

Line 5/6 - I can not even find poison O! tyrant, otherwise. What vow is there about meeting you, that I can not eat (take) it. The poet says that taking poison is not like a vow about (not) meeting you that I can not take. I can do that. But alas! I can not even find the poison O! cruel one. Otherwise I would have taken it. The lines do not refer to a negation is the vow, but in everyday usage a vow is like usually "not doing or not meeting" rather than the other way round. If you read it like that, the lines become much clear and meaningful!

Meaning of difficult words -
sitamgar = oppressor
zauf = weakness
taana = taunt
aghayaar = enemy
shikawa = complaint

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Poem Of The Day

The phone giant Apple had been parroting lines from the below poem [O me! O life!] by great American poet Walt Whitman in their TV commercials for their new iphones. Bit ironic considering the only verse the phone users contribute is endless egoistic selfies and small talk over instant messaging. Here is the poem for you to reflect in its full glory!

O me! O life!

  O me! O life! of the questions of these recurring,

  Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill'd with the foolish,
  Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
  Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew'd,
  Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
  Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
  The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

  Answer.

  That you are here—that life exists and identity,
  That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.


This is so so true. So many times around us, in the rigors of the mundane life and sometimes rootless and aimless lives, we do stop by and question it - what good is it? for what? The poet gives the answer that life is just for living. That's it! Life is a reason enough for living. Existence is a reason enough for existing. And in this powerful play that goes on around us, you contribute to it by just living.. existing... I Live because I Exist!

Translation - Laazim Tha Ki Dekho Mera Rasta (Ghalib)

laazim tha ki dekho  mera rasta koee din aur
tanha gaye kyon ? ab raho tanha koee din aur

Line 1/2 - It was necessary that you keep an eye out on the road for me for a few days more. Why did you leave alone? Now remain alone for a few days more. Ghalib wrote this ghazal in memory of beloved brother-in-law (Arif) who died young. The poet says, it necessary for you to wait for me for some more days, but now that you have left (died). You remain alone for some more days till the time I also come.

mit jaayega sar, gar tera patthar na ghisega
hoon dar pe tere naasiyaa_farsa koee din aur

Line 3/4 - The head will be destroyed, if your stone will not be worn off. I am with my forehead touching at your door for a few days more. Such a haunting thought of utmost grief. The poet says either my head would be lost and erased or your tomb stone would be faded and worn off by my forehead that keep hitting the tombstone. Some thing has to give, and give in soon, either my head or you tombstone.

aaye  ho kal  aur aaj  hee kehte  ho ki jaaoon
maana ki hamesha naheen, achchaa, koee din aur

Line 5/6 - You came yesterday and today you are saying that I am going. Agreed that its not forever, alright! a few more days. Ghalib in his grief, dramatises a scene where his brother-in-law ha has come back from dead and is taking leave. The poet responds what is the hurry, I know it not forever, but stay few days more.
 
jaate  huve  kahte  ho,  qayaamat  ko milenge
kya khoob ! qayaamat ka hai goya koee din aur ?

Line 7/8 - When leaving, you says we will meet on the doomsday. That's a good one! Doomsday as if is on some other day. The poet says on the day you were leaving, you said that we would meet on the doomsday. What a thought! as if doomsday is some other day. For me it was the day you left. That grievous day itself feels like end of the world.

haan 'ei falak-e-peer, javaan tha abhee 'aarif'
kya  tera  bigadata  jo na marta  koee din aur ?  

Line 9/10 - Yes, O! Lord of the Sky, Arif was still young. What harm would it have caused you if he had not died for a few days more. The poet, O! God, what harm would had been had Arif (brother-in-law) lived some more days. He was still in his prime.

tum maah-e-shab-e-char_dahum  the;  mere  ghar ke
phir kyon na raha ghar ka woh naqsha koee din aur ?

Line 11/12 - You were the moon of the fourteenth night of my home. Then why did not the state of my house remain the same for a few days more. Arif was the full moon of my home, but why did he vanish so suddenly leaving my house in total darkness
 
tum kaun se 'eise the; khare daad-o-sitad ke ?
karta  malak_ul_maut  taqaaza  koee  din aur ?

Line 13/14 - You were not like 'this'. Very genuine and strict in settling your account book. The angel of death could have settled the claim some other day. The poet since when has lord of death has been so strict in making his claims. He could have pressed on the claim maybe some other day.

mujhse  tumhain nafrat sahee, 'nayyar' se ladaayee
bachhon ka bhee dekha na  tamaasha koee  din aur ?

Line 15/16 - Its alright that you hated me and you quarreled with nayyar (pupil of ghalib). You did not watch the children play a few days more! Ghalib says okay, you hated me and quarreled with nayyar (obviously both situations being untrue), but lets assume they were true for argument, but still you could have stayed to watch your children play some days more!

guzree na bahar-haal yah muddat khushee-naakhush
karna tha,  javaan_marg !  guzaara koee din aur

Line 17/18 - Passed it not in any case, this interval happily or unhappily. you should have, the one who die young! passed a few days more. Ghalib says that getting through with life either happily or in grief is what is living, you should have also done the same for a few days more.  

naadaan ho jo kehte ho ki kyon jeete ho 'ghalib'
qismat mein hai marne ki tamanna  koee din aur ?

Line 19/20 - You are foolishly innocent that you say,  why do you live Ghalib? In my destiny, I long for death for a few days more. Now that my friend has passed, you foolishly ask why does Ghalib live. I reply that I long for death a few more days. Its written in my destiny to long for it some more time.

Meaning of difficult words :-
laazim = necessary
tanha = alone
dar = door
naasiyaa = forehead
farsa = to kneel down and touch the forehead on the ground
falak = sky/heaven
falak-e-peer = refering to the sky
maah-e-shab-e-char_dahum = moon of the fourteenth night
daad = justice
sitad = to take
daad-o-sitad = buying and selling/settlement of accounts
malak = an angel
malak_ul_maut = angel of death, 
taqaaza = demanding/pressing settlement of a claim
bahar-haal = in any case, 
javaan_marg = one who dies young.

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The Rubaiyat : Quatrain XXVI


Oh, come with old Khayyam, and leave the Wise
To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies:
One thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.

This is the twenty-sixth quatrain of FitzGerald's Rubaiyat. This is one of the easier quatrains. In the first couple of lines, Khayyam says to come with him and ignore the wise who always talks of caution and wisdom One thing is certain he says and that is that time is short. It will fly away. Rest is all lies and inconsequential. The life we have is the only thing we have and we need to live it before it all goes away for ever. The recurring motif is similar to what we have read in previous quatrains.

The Rubaiyat : Quatrain XXV


Why, all the Saints and Sages who discuss'd
Of the Two Worlds so learnedly, are thrust
Like foolish Prophets forth; their Words to Scorn
Are scatter'd, and their Mouths are stopt with Dust.

This is the twenty-fifth quatrain of the Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat. The first two lines say that the holy saints and sages, the learned men of our age who talk so learnedly as if to know all the secret of this world and the world thereafter. These wise discussions are like the foolish ramblings of the false prophets (who claims to foresee the future) who are abound here and there and who are believed by none. These words of saints and sages will be long lost and they will be consumed by the dust (death). The poet says even the learned among us, the pious saints and the wise sages who know so much of the two words in fact know nothing of either. Whatever they knew, whatever they said will be lost and their words will be scattered.

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

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!

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

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

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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. 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

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!

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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!

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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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.

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.

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

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 travelers 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.

saqi gari ki sharm karo aaj warna ham,
har shab piya hi karte hain, mai jis qadar mile.

Line 5/6 - You should be ashamed of your cup bearer-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!
             
tujh se to kuchh kalaam nahin lekin ai nadim!
mera salaam kaheyo agar naama-bar mile.

Line 7/8 - I have no question/word for(against) you but my friend!. Say my greetings if you see the messenger. 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.
             
tum ko bhi ham dikhaenge majnun ne kya kiya,
fursat kashaakash-e-gham-e-pinhaan se gar mile.

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 rigors of life & living. My grief are not on similar plane as majnun.
             
laazim nahin ke khizar ki ham pairwi karen,
maana ke ek bazurg hamen ham safar mile.

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 traveler. 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 traveler with us. In this journey my way is no less important than the Khizar's way.
             
ai saaknaan-e-kucha-e-dildaar dekhna,
tum ko kahin jo ghalib-e-aashufta sar mile.

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

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