Translation - Kabhee Nekee Bhee Uske Jee Mein Gar Aa Jaaye (Ghalib)

kabhee nekee bhee uske jee mein gar aa jaaye hai mujhse
jafaayen  karke  apnee  yaad   sharma  jaaye hai mujhse

Line 1/2 - If only, sometimes goodness also comes into her temperament towards me. Remembering her cruelties and torments (towards me), she is embarrassed before me. The poet says the beloved in some rare sense of generosity has shown kindness and benevolence towards him unlike the usual indifference and torment. But even in this moment of kindness, she recalls her own cruelty towards him and feels ashamed to come across him. I am a miserable self, the beloved's usual behavior is of cruelty and indifference and on a rare day of kindness, she won't even come in front of me (out of embarrassment) and grant me her graces. Such is my luck which has no respite at all!

khudaaya ! jazbaa-e-dil  kee   magar   taaseer  ultee hai
ki jitna khintchataa hoon aur khintchtaa jaaye hai mujhse

Line 3/4 - Oh Lord! perhaps the impression/effect of the emotions of the heart have been reversed. For, as much as I pull, she goes on being more pulled away from me. The poet says O Lord! probably the effect of the emotions of the heart have been inverted. The emotions have been those of attractions of the heart but maybe the effects of it have been reversed. Instead of being attracted towards me, the more I try to draw her towards me, the more she draws away (in the same measure) from me. There is no mention if the beloved is purposefully doing it (drawing away) or it is the effect of his attraction that have somehow been reversed!

woh   bad_khoo   aur  meree  daastan-e-ishq   tulaanee
ibaarat mukhtasar, qaasid bhee ghabra jaaye hai mujhse    

Line 5/6 - That (the beloved) bad habits/behavior and my tale of love (is) long. To keep the speech short, even the messenger gets bewildered because of me. The poet says the beloved's bad conduct (of indifference and rebuke towards him) and my epic narrative of love and passion is very long. To cut the long story short, even the messenger becomes nervous when he hears my lengthy message. Leave alone the ill tempered beloved, even the messenger gets into panic at the thought of having to hear my long story. (or probably the messenger gets into panic at the thought on what the response of the ill- mouthed beloved will be when he narrates the message). The poet willingly makes the long story short to sum up his situation with the messenger but he is unable to make his long epic a bit concise for the fear he will not get his passion across to her. He can't make it any less shorter. Such is the perplexity of the lover! Very clever usage of long daastan (an epic tale full of subplots and themes) and a concise ibaarat (diction) in the sher.

udhar woh bad_ghumaanee hai, idhar yeh naatavaanee hai
na  poocha jaaye hai us'se,  na bola jaaye hai  mujhse

Line 7/8 - Over there there was suspicious-ness and distrust, over here there is weakness and inability. Neither is she able to ask, nor I am able to speak. The poet says over there, there is doubts and distrust about my love for her and so she does not ask about it. Over here, I am unable and powerless (weakness due to grief) and hence unable to speak to her. Her suspicion stops her from asking and my weakness stops me from speaking to her. What can I do? She does not ask and I can not speak. How will I convince her of my love. The use of idhaar-udhaar to specify the lover and the beloved without actually pointing to them and this also expresses the remoteness of the other and the emotional distance between them!

sambhalne de mujhe 'ei na_ummidee  kya qayaamat hai
ki daamaan-e-khayaal-e-yaar choota jaaye hai mujhse

Line 9/10 - Let me get hold of myself, oh! hopelessness, what (is it?) doomsday it is!. That dress-hem (daamaan) of the thought of the beloved is slipping out of my reach. The poet says let me get hold of my self, let me steady myself. Oh hopelessness! why did you throw me down? What a doomsday it is! that I lost my grip on the hem of the thought of the beloved. Due to that fall, it has slipped out of my hand. What a calamity it is! The lover is beseeching the hopelessness to not annoy him for he has only the hem of the thought to comfort him. The use of hem of the thought and not thought is interesting. daamaan is usually the trailing portion of the dress and the beloved goes past the lover indifferent and all he has is the thought of her hem dragging along. The lover has inverted it into hem of her thought and is clinging on to it. The other reading is where the lover questions if this is doomsday? It could be doomsday only for then it would be possible for hopelessness to get the better of me and cause me to loose my grip. No other situation would have caused me to shake me of my despair and let go of the hem of the thought of the beloved. It must be doomsday for sure!

takalluf bar-taraf nazzaaragee mein bhee sahi, lekin
woh dekha jaaye, kab ye zulm dekha jaaye hai mujhse

Line 11/12 - Leave aside the formality, I too indeed am a spectator[engaged in watching her], but. That it is to be seen, when is this cruelty to be looked upon by me? nazzaaragee means looking at or seeing and is taken from nazzaarah which means a view or a show. The poet says leave aside the formality, I am also a spectator here looking at her (beloved). To tell you the truth, even I am also engaged in watching her. She is such a beauty that she has to be seen. But when am I going to look into this cruelty of others watching her. When will I take care of this cruelty and torment of people watching her. But then he also says to tell you the truth even I am among the people watching her!

hue  hain  paanv hee pehle nabard-e-ishq  mein zakhmee
na bhaaga jaaye hai mujhse, na thehra jaaye hai mujhse

Line 13/14 -  It is the feet that were first wounded in the struggle of love. I am neither able to run, nor I able to stay. The poet says my feet were the first causalities in the battle of love. The lover leaves open the question of as to how and why were his legs injured in the early battle for love. They are not particularly relevant, what is crucial is the situation the lover find himself in. He is lying on the ground unable to put up a fight or flee the battle. The lover finds himself in a pitiable situation indeed vis-a-vis the beloved where both the options are not available. Neither can he die in the battle for love, nor can he flee in the hope of coming back again later. All he can do is to narrate his abject condition with despair!

qayaamat  hai  ke  howe  muddaee  ka  ham_safar 'ghalib'
woh kaafir, jo khuda ko bhee na saunpa jaaye hai mujhse

Line 15/16 - It's is a doomsday, that (she) has become a fellow traveler of the enemy, ghalib. That infidel, who I can not entrust even to the God. The poet says it is a calamity, it's the doomsday that she has agreed to become a fellow traveler of my enemy (a rival suitor for the beloved's favors). I can not entrust this infidel (her) even to the Lord. Now consider this setting. The beloved is leaving on a journey with his rival and the lover during their farewell instead of the customary greeting khudaa-haafiz (may God be your guardian) says he can't even entrust her (hand her custody) to God out of jealousy and such strong feelings for her even though it would do her some good for she is an infidel. And yet for someone who can not trust her even to God, has to bear at the thought of her going on the journey with his rival. Such is the irony of my situation. It surely must be doomsday!

Meaning of difficult words -
jafaayen = oppression/tyranny of a beloved
jazbaa-e-dil = emotions
taaseer = impression
bad_khoo = bad habits
tulaanee = long
ibaarat = diction/ admonishing
mukhtasar = concise
qaasid = messenger
badghumaanee = suspicion
naatavaanee = weakness
daamaan = hem of the dress
taqalluf = hesitation/formality
bar-taraf = suspend
nabard-e-ishaq = struggle in love
muddaee  = enemy/conniver
saunpa = confide / entrust

Read more posts on Ghalib.

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