Uga hai ghar meiN har-su sabza, virani tamash kar
View desolateness of my house, weeds have grown
Madar, ab khodne par ghas ke, hai mere darbaN ka
Now, my watchmen’s (new) job is to kick-eradicate sneaking weeds & algae sabza=weeds, algae, greenery virani=desolateness, barrenness madar= dependence, darbaN= watchman, guard
This is the 7th verse of Ghalib’s 10th ghazal.
Meaning: In this verse, Ghalib has described his own downfall, and desolateness of his house, in such a way, that it makes any reader both laugh and cry. Situation is like this: Ghalib has squandered away his wealth and has bet every thing he had, for sake of his beloved. He doesn’t care for anything except his sweetheart. Once, Ghalib’s house was a well decorated, neat place. However, now due to lack of maintenance, water seeps through roof and walls and weeds have grown allover. Ghalib still has one faithful servant, a watchman/guard. In good times, he stopped unwanted people and thieves entering Ghalib’s house and protected his property against vandals. Now, during this adverse era, he doesn’t want to leave Ghalib. Ironically, now there are no valuables in house to guard and no friends or strangers to prevent. So, what can he guard or who does he kick out? Yes! Now he has a new job; he eradicates unwanted weeds instead of unwanted strangers. Ghalib says, “Oh people! Look at my downfall. I had hired this guard to weed out unwanted people; he is weeding out unwanted grass”
In Urdu, weeds are called Sabza-e-begana or unwanted grass or stranger-grass. The soul of this verse is in this word! The guard, whose duty was to stop strangers and unwanted people sneaking into Ghalib’s premises, now his duty has become stopping unwanted grass sneaking into Ghalib house; he is busy pulling out weeds from walls, roof, and floor.
Finer aspects of this verse: In first line of this verse, Ghalib uses word Sabza for weeds and in the next verse he calls it ghas or grass. He never repeats the same word in one verse.
Ghalibologists’ opinions: Aasi’s opinion: If this verse is address to desolateness, it creates a different charm. “Oh desolateness, what have you done to my house?!”
My own experience: Once I was working in a flourishing Engineering company. I use to hop from one meeting to another commanding subordinates and clients. Then our company went down the hill. There were no jobs to do. So, we started cleaning old files to show we were busy. During those days, I repeatedly sang this verse and consoled myself.