Translation Har Ek Baat Pe Kehte (Ghalib)

har ek baat pe kehte ho tum ke tu kya hai?
tumheen kaho ke yeh andaaz-e-guftgoo kya hai ?

Line 1/2 - On every conversation/utterance of mine, you say "what are you". You tell me what kind of conversation interchange is this? The most obvious interpretation is the poet addressing his beloved, who has an air of indifference towards her lover and arrogantly dismisses him as "what are you. What do you think of yourself?" (maybe due to social status gap). The poet complains that how can any meaningful conversation happen if this is the way she continues to behave.

na shole mein yeh karishma na barq mein yeh ada
koi batao ki woh shokh-e-tund khoo kya hai?

Line 3/4 - The balls of burning fire does not have such miracle, nor the sudden bolt of lightning has such a style. Some one tell me what that mischievous and sharp-tongued mood/behavior is. This one is fairly straightforward, where the poet describes his beloved's sharp nature and temper as something that can outdo the searing coals and sudden lightning bolt.

yeh rashk hai ki wo hota hai ham-sukhan tumse
wagarna khauf-e-bad_aamozi-e-adoo kya hai?

Line 5/6 - The poet says that I am only jealous because of the fact that he gets to talk to you. Otherwise what fear do I have of the teaching/misguiding that his wicked enemy of mine is giving to you. He is envious that this enemy of his gets the comfort of his beloved's company, but he is not worried about the lessons that he is telling her, for he knows she is mine (or in other way he knows that she will ditch new lover like the way she has done to him earlier)

chipak raha hai badan par lahoo se pairaahan
hamaaree jeb ko ab haajat-e-rafoo kya hai ?

Line 7/8 - This gown of mine is sticking to my body, with blood. Why does this gown's collar need any darning (now). To explain this, the poet says his gown is all bloodied due to his heart bursting out from the grief/pressure of love. So what use will be the mending of the gown, since it will be torn again by his heart bursting out again (due to the rigors of the love). Some ghoulish imagery by Ghalib indeed!

jalaa hai jism jahaan dil bhee jal gaya hoga
kuredate ho jo ab raakh, justjoo kya hai?

Line 9/10 - The poet says that where the body has been totally burnt, the heart must also have been totally burnt. What are you searching now in the ashes now, what is your intention/desire? This is an obvious taunt to his beloved, what is she searching now in the ashes of his burnt out body. What is her desire? Is she searching for his heart, for if she is, that would have also been burnt with the rest of the body. Why is she being so considerate now (for she herself caused his death by her rebuke/indifference). Totally awesome!

ragon mein daudte firne ke ham naheen qaayal
jab aankh hee se na tapka to fir lahoo kya hai?

Line 11/12 - The poet says I am not impressed by it running about in the veins. If it does not drip from the eyes, what kind of blood is this. What good is the lover's blood whose sole purpose is to run around in the veins and it can't drip from the eyes of the lover. What good will that blood (running on veins) be if it continues to make him live and suffer (the agony of love). It should instead drip out endlessly through his eyes, and end this misery(life) of his.

woh cheez jiske liye hamko ho bahisht azeez
siwaay baada-e-gul_faam-e-mushkaboo kya hai?

Line 13/14 - The things for which we cherish the heaven, what is it other than wine flavored with the fragrance of delicate flowers and smelling like musk. Ghalib professes his love for wine and takes the aim at the religious clergy for misguiding people about after-life when the best thing there would still be the earthly wine. It could also mean Ghalib questioning what would be in out there in heaven (even more fabulous than wine)?

piyoon sharaab agar khum bhee dekh loon do chaar
yeh sheesha-o-qadah-o-kooza-o-suboo kya hai ?

Line 15/16 - The poet says that I can see (and take care) of 2-4 barrels of wine. So what use is talking about these glasses, pitchers and chalice. The poet again tells about his prowess in wine-drinking.

rahee na taaqat-e-guftaar, aur agar ho bhee
to kis ummeed pe kahiye ke aarzoo kya hai?

Line 17/18 - The poet says that he has no power left for a speech, and even if the power was there then with what hope should I say what's that I desire. The despondency, the misery has sucked all the life out of him, so much so that he does not even have the will to make a speech and even if he were to, what good would that be. His desires would still be unanswered (by God or maybe his beloved). What's the point hoping for those expectation that would never be fulfilled.

hua hai shaah ka musaahib, fir hai itaraata
wagarna shehar mein 'ghalib' kee aabroo kya hai?

Line 19/20 - The poet says having been the associate of the king, he can swagger around the town boastfully now. Otherwise, what is Ghalib's place/status in the city? This can be interpreted as a compliment to the emperor on whose monthly pension the poet is maintained or it can also be a lament that even a poet of no less repute than Ghalib needs to have a patron so that he is assured of a regular income.

Meaning of difficult words -
guftgoo = conversation
barq = lightning
tund = sharp/angry
khoo = behavior
musaahib = comrade/associate
justjoo = desire
pairaahan = shirt/robe/cloth
rashk = jealousy
rafoo = mending/darning
haajat = need/necessity
adoo = enemy
bad = bad/wicked
aamozee = education/teaching
khauf = fear
ham_sukhan = to speak together/to agree
mushkaboo = like the smell of musk
gul_faam = delicate and fragrant like flowers
bahisht = heaven
baada = wine
khum = wine barrel
qadah = goblet
kooza/suboo = wine pitcher
guftaar = speech/discourse

Read more posts on Ghalib.


  1. Thank you for your work. Its awesome!

  2. Barkha Swaroop SaxenaSun Dec 24, 06:43:00 PM

    I see in every explanation, the word obvious has been used. It is unfair to assume that all poetry is done for a lover. Most of the renowned artists have spoken about the times. The socio - political scenario. They have raised questions on governments, the treatment of the people by the rulers of the time. The lines here by Ghalib can also be interpreted as him raising questions on their attitude towards the masses.

  3. Thanks for this explanation! It's really great!!