The complaint

Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib was one of the greatest poets who ever lived in the Mughal Empire. More than his poetry, it is his life and love for life that I find quite inspiring. Undoubtedly, his words have inspired generations of poets that followed him and I still find his diwan (collection of poetic writings) to be quite delightful. The first couplet of the diwan is reproduced below:

نقشِ فریادی  ہے  کس کی  شوخیِ تحریر  کا

کاغذی    ہے   پیرہن    ہر  پیکرِ  تصویر  کا

Naqsh-e-faryaadi hai kis ki shaukhi-e tehreer ka

Kagazi hai pairahan har paikar-e tasveer ka

A rather simplified meaning of this couplet is:

This sign made by the one who complaints

Is it a mischief through writing?

Every image worthy of being admired

Wears paper thin clothes

Obviously, different thinkers and critics have applied their own meanings to the words and a very powerful as well as detailed explanation (along with criticism) can be found at the Ghalib index maintained by Columbia University. I suggest you read it if you’re so inclined. It does explain a lot of the difficulty in translating poetic thought, particularly from languages such as Persian and Urdu. As I reflected on Ghalib’s words, a rather dismal ghazal formed in my mind, of which the hasil-e-ghazal (primary meaningful verse) is the second couplet.

ان مناظر  پے  اب  دھیان کون کرے

ترے سامنے تعریفِ جہاں کون کرے

These vistas

Are immaterial

Am I to waste time praising the world?

Or should I admire your beauty?

j

شوخیِ تحریر تو جرم  ٹھہری یاروں

فریادی  موجود پر، نشان کون کرے

And it is a crime to write

Or to make a mark

The injured party is there

Who registers the complaint?

j

دیوانگی میں افسردگی؟  ہنسی اتی ہے

ہم ہنسے  رقیب ہنسے،  فغاں کون کرے

A sense of sadness

With a hint of insanity

It makes me and him laugh

But who cries?

j

کیوں  صدائیں  اپنی جدا  ہو گئیں

آج تجھ کو میرا،  ہمنوا کون کرے

And for some reason

We now have different beliefs

Who today

Will make us sing in harmony

j

فیضی ضبطِ حالی، اقبالی کم نصیبی

اب  تیرے  در کو،  آستان  کون  کرے

Faiz like patience

Poor timing as Iqbal

Now who shall make your house

A dwelling

j

کوئی تو  ہے یہاں,  جو من میں  آتا ہے

یوں میری جان کو، جانِ جان کون کرے

You are creeping further

Right into my heart

Turning my life

Into the life of your life

j

رنگے مرے ہاتھ اسی کے لہو سے

اب مرے ہاتھوں کو، حنا کون کرے

And my hands are soaked

In her blood

Who shall now

Put henna on my hands?

j

یہ  شہر  تو تیرے  اسیروں کا ہے

جو  قید توں کرے، رہا  کون کرے

This city belongs to those

Who have been ensnared by your tresses

And who can free

Whom you have captured

j

عجب بے دلی سی ہے سرِ شام

جفا  ہوتی نہیں،  وفا کون کرے

Without her

The evening feels sad

I am accused of being faithless

Who can be faithful?

j

بس   کر یہ فتوے   بازی   او قاضی

جنہے  رب اک  کرے، جدا کون کرے

Please stop

Passing judgements and sentences

Individuals who are made to think alike

Are alike in action

j

کچھ سبب تو ہے، کے خاموشی ہے

اک  راز پنہاں ہے،  آیاں کون کرے

There must be a reason

For this silence

A secret, hidden

Who makes it obvious?

j

ہے تو استادِ بے باک جو سچا ہے

جراتِ گناہ اسکے سوا کون کرے

And it is only I

Who says the truth

This courage to sin

Belongs to none other

j

اَلصَّلاَةُ خَيْرٌ مِّنَ النَّوْمِ سنا صبحِ ازل

ایسی  پر  سوز  اذان  کون  کرے؟

With first light I heard

Worship is better than sleeping

Who said

Those beautiful words?

5 Comments

Filed under Ghazal, Poetry

5 responses to “The complaint

  1. Julie

    A haunting and mysterious ghazal. Thank you for sharing this. 🙂

    Like

    • I’m glad you liked it… Thank you… 🙂

      Like

      • Julie

        By the way, would you happen to know the translation of this Ghalib stanza:

        Bana kar hambays fakeerao ka Ghalib
        Tamasha e ehl e karam dekhthay hay!

        I can’t seem to find any translation for it…

        Like

      • In my limited understanding, the simple translation of the verse would be…

        I change my attire to be as a beggar
        So I can see how the mighty behave

        In terms of meaning, Ghalib is perhaps being ironic here as ‘Ahl-e-Karam’ are also lovers or those individuals that a lover is attracted to. By making a mockery of them, Ghalib is suggesting that while the mighty are supposed to be generous to beggars, they are quite the opposite. This is the ‘Tamasha’ or farce that they put on which Ghalib seems to enjoy tremendously 🙂

        Like

  2. Julie

    How brilliant and wonderful. One would wish to know Urdu to know Ghalib – all the layers. Thank you for translating this for me. 🙂

    Like

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