Dil Hi Toh Hai ...


Posts pertaining to philosophy, technology and mythology are in the pipeline.

But, first there must be a Ghalib encore.


Like an Arijit Singh song, which can make even a forever alone guy recount his non-existent breakup, Ghalib can give hale and hearty folks a bout of major depression.


If you think Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi was melancholic, you are going to be (un)pleasantly surprised.


Presenting, Dil Hi Toh Hai ....


Dil hi toh hai, na sang-o-khist Dard se bhar na aaye kyon?

It is, after all, just a heart, not a stone or a brick.

Why then, should it not swell up with agony?

Royenge hum hazaar baar Koi humein sataye kyon?

Yes, I will cry my heart out, a thousand times!

Why should anyone dare disturb/harass me?


Quite poignantly, Ghalib says that his heart is made of flesh and blood and is not a lifeless stone. Therefore, it is only natural for it to be overwhelmed with pain and there is absolutely no reasons for him to hold back his tears.


The second verse may be directed at the people around Ghalib, who are trying to pacify and thus 'disturb' him. It may also have been directed at his lover, who has broken his heart and 'harassed' him.


Dair nahin, haram nahin, Dar nahin, aastan nahin

Neither at a mosque or a temple,

Nor at anyone's doorstep or porch.

Baithe hain reh-guzar pe hum Gair humein uthaye kyon?

I am sitting here on the public pavement,

Why should they ask me to get up and move?


The first time I read these verses, I felt it was written in a tone of defiance.

Almost as if Ghalib wanted to tell the onlookers- "Tere baap ka kya jaata hai?"

"Mind your own business, boss. I''m sitting on the road, not on your private property."


In subsequent readings, I sensed a tone of the poet's almost child-like craving for attention and help. "What's wrong with you apathetic people? I am sitting here, right in the middle of the road for you all to see. Why doesn't anyone bother asking what's ailing me?"


Qaid-e-hayaat o band-e-gham, Asl mein dono ek hain

This prison called life and these shackles of sorrow,

Are in fact, one and the same thing.

Maut se pehle aadmi Gum se nijaat paye kyon?

Before death then, how can a man

Expect to be rid of sorrow?


Is there a verse penned more defeatist and despondent than this?

The sharp, stinging words here cuts one deep.


Ghalib feels his very existence is an imprisonment, and the only way to escape his misery is to die.


Han woh nahin khuda parast Jao woh bewafa sahi

Yes, it's true that he/she is not a theist.

Let us also concede that he/she is unfaithful.

Jisko ho deen-o-dil aziz Uski gali mein jaye kyon?

Why would one, to whom faith and love is dear,

Bother to loiter around his/her lane?


Two interpretations based on whether you consider the subject of the verse to be a he or a she -


1) Ghalib is referring to himself in the third person when he says 'he'. As described in one of the verses above, Ghalib does not visit mosques and temples, so it makes sense that he is talking about himself, when he says that it is true that he is an infidel and a cheat. In self-loathe (or attention mongering?), he says why should one care to approach and help a person like him out?


2) 'She' in the above verse refers to Ghalib's lover. Exposing the hypocrisy of the people, Ghalib sarcastically says - "Yes, it is true that my lover is despicable and she turned out to be unfaithful. Then why do you people, who hold such high moral standards, care to frequent her house?"


Ghalib-e-khast ke bagair Kaunse kaam band hain?

Without this wretched Ghalib,

Which activities have come to a halt?

Roeeye zaar-zaar kya? Keejiye haye-haye kyon?

Why weep bitterly?

Why wail and lament?


As always, it is very difficult to comprehend the poet's real emotions behind these words.


Is it the cynic in him talking and is he self-castigating when he calls himself a 'wretched' who is inconsequential and not worth lamenting by this world?


Or is it one last cry of desperation by the poet, saying, if you really felt I was so abominable all this while, why then do you weep so woefully when I'm gone?


Guess we will never know.

#ghazal #ghalib #poetry

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