Translation - Ishq Mujhko Nahin (Ghalib)

ishq mujhko nahin, wehshat hi sahi
meri wehshat, teri shohrat hi sahi

Line 1/2 - The beloved addressing the lover says there is no love between us and your feelings towards me are not love. The poet replies let it be madness then and let my madness be the cause of your fame. The lover is willing to go mad in quest for his love even though the love is unrequited. Even his madness, he wishes would bring more fame to his beloved. He wants the best for his lover irrespective of his love is returned or not.

qata`a keeje na ta`alluq ham se
kuch nahin hai to `adaavat hi sahi

Line 3/4 - Don't break of the relationship/ties between you and me. Even if nothing remain between us, then let the enmity remain. The poet is not willing to let go of his beloved. He laments that don't sever the ties, but if you do then let us be enemies. In that way, you will not wither away from my mind but will be a strong feeling in my thoughts even if those thoughts are of enmity.

mere hone mein hai kya ruswaaee?
'ei woh majlis nahin khalwat hi sahi

Line 5/6 - What is this displeasure that you are showing in my presence? If you don't like it here (in the public assembly place), then meet me alone someplace isolated. The poet aware that his beloved my not be keen on exposing our relationship to public sphere, pleads that she can meet him alone, away from the prying eyes.

ham bhi dushman to nahee hain apne
ghair ko tujh se mohabbat hi sahi

Line 7/8 - The poet says that I am also not enemy of my own self. So what if a total stranger is in love with you. This seems to be a simpler couplet, yet thinking it multiple times one can argue that the poet says that he is not enemy with his inner self (his alter-ego), so what if the alter-ego is in love with you. He has nothing to worry about. The physical self is satisfied with his metaphysical self being in love with his beloved.

apni hastee hee se ho, jo kuch ho!
aagahee gar nahin ghaflat hi sahi

Line 9/10 - This is the jewel of this ghazal. The poet says that whatever you are, it is because of your being/self. If one is not aware of this eternal truth, then let there be ignorance. In an existentialist streak, Ghalib says that being/self defines the essence of life. It precedes it. Your life, your actions will define what and how you will be known. If this fact is not being realized and understood by people, then let ignorance reign over the masses.

'umr harchand ke hai barq-e-khiraam
dil ke khoon karne ki fursat hi sahi

Line 11/12 - Life is passing by (moving forward) every moment like a lightning flash. Despite this, there is lot of time to engage in the rigors of love. The poet says that even in this short-lived life, its not small to be in love and occasionally sometimes to fail in love.

ham koi tarq-e-wafa karte hain
na sahi ishq, museebat hi sahi

Line 13/14 - I am not the one who has given up on this relationship of ours. I still believe in it. If not love, then it be another torment/trouble. Ghalib says I am not questioning this relationship, but if there is no love left between us then let the torment remain. Let the misery and uncertainty continue to inflict my soul.

kuchch to de 'ei falak-e-na_insaaf
aah-o-fariyaad ki rukhasat hi sahi

Line 15/16 - Give me at least something, O you unjust One (referring to God as Keeper of the unfair blue sky). Give me at least the right/permission to plead and appeal. Ghalib using simple imagery (like blue sky), in a cynical tone mocks to God to give him some hint of his impartiality or else give him the sanction to plea.

ham bhee tasleem kee khoo daalenge
be_niyaazee teree `aadat hi sahi

Line 17/18 - I will accept this habit. Even if this indifference of yours is a habit of yours. Ghalib says i will start accepting and continue bearing this habit/conduct without complaining. It's okay if this apathy towards me is your usual demeanor.

yaar se cheda chalee jaay, 'Asad'
gar nahi wasl to hasrat hi sahi

Line 19/20 - The poet says that this teasing and sweet-talking the beloved by Asad will finally end. Even if union is not possible, then let the desire remain at least. Ghalib says that this playfulness eventually will be no more, and if union is not there then let the unfulfilled desire remain.

Meaning of difficult words:
wehshat = madness/horror
shohrat = fame
qata'a = break/intercept
ta'alluq = relation/connection
'adaavat = hatred/animosity
majlis = assembly
khalwat = isolation
hastee = existence
aagahee = knowledge/information
ghaflat = negligence
harchand = every moment
barq = lightning
khiraam = manner of walking
tarq = relinquishment
falak = sky
tasleem = greeting/saluting
khoo = habit
be_niyaazee = independence
wasl = meeting
hasrat = desire

Read more posts on Ghalib.


  1. Awesome translations n interpretations. I was just looking for the meanings of few lines sung by jagjit singh n spent good amount of time in your Ghalib's interprets.. Hats off to you for your understanding.

  2. Great way of explanation...hats off to your effort...really helps to understand the Galib poetry