3. A Ghazal from Ghalib

translated by M. Shahid Alam

If a thing’s delayed, there’s a thing delaying it.
Not you, your suitors slowed you down a bit.

It wasn’t right, pinning my troubles on you.
The furies, fate, kismet, each had a hand in it.

If you can’t remember, let me jog your memory.
I was your prized quarry: you grew fond of it.

Captive, I stay awake, thinking of you all night.
It’s true my shackled feet also hurt a bit.

I hadn’t asked for this blinding flash of light.
I wish He’d speak to me: my heart aches for it.

I bared my neck for her. She backed out of it.
She is a sharp shooter. An arrow too could do it.

Wrongly, we are tried on the report of angels.
Is there a man like us to say he saw us do it?

Ghalib, you do not have the crown of the ghazal.
It’s rumored there was Meer, with better claim to it.

First published in Beloit Poetry Journal, Fall 2001.

For more ghazals from Ghalib, click here.

M. Shahid Alam is professor of economics at Northeastern University. He is the author of Israeli Exceptionalism (Palgrave, 2009) and Challenging the New Orientalism (IPI, 2007). Visit his website at http://qreason.com. Write to him at alqalam02760@yahoo.com.

2. Ghazal from Ghalib

translation by M. Shahid Alam

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کہتے ہو نہ دینگے ہم دل اگر پڑا پایا
دل کہاں کہ گم کیجئے ‘ ہم نےمدُعا پایا

.

I can’t have it – you say – if you find my heart.
Once – it was mine. Now I know who has it.

Love is easily the best part of life. This pain
cures life’s itch: there is no cure for it.

She is coy & cunning, sweet – exacting too.
She is testing me when I do not know it.

The plain truth about my heart is this.
Every time I look for it, she says she has it.

My mentor likes to rub salt in my wounds.
Sir Tormentor, I ask, what is your reason for it?

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