Meh’ram nahiN hai tu hi nawa-haa-e-raaz ka YaaN, warna jo hijab hai, parda hai saaz ka

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Mehram nahiN hai

Meh’ram nahiN hai tu hi nawa-haa-e-raaz ka
You are the one who is not intimate to voices of secrets
YaaN,  warna  jo hijab  hai, parda hai  saaz  ka
Otherwise, whatever seems to be a cover, in fact is a drum.  

Meh’ram= close, close relative   nawa-haa=plural of nawa, voices   hijab=veil, mask    Saaz= a musical instrument                                           

This is the 1st verse of Ghalib’s 13th ghazal.

Meaning: In this verse Ghalib talks about how nature reveals its secrets to smart eyes.  He says, oh Ghalib you are the one who is incapable of understanding cues and signs of nature revealing its underlying secrets; otherwise, in this world, every thing is crying out its secrets.  Look at drum. For untrained eyes, drum skin is merely a cover; such eyes remain blind to drum’s hidden music.

This she’r is a real gem. It could also mean: Oh my friend, because you are ignorant of secret tunes hidden beneath the outer cover, you can not understand tunes of ultimate truth. If you open up your spiritual eyes, you will hear every so called secret of nature revealing to you, like drum-skin revealing its secrets to a musician. Since you are ignorant, the drum skin simply looks a cover to you and you fail to enjoy its music.

Finer aspects of this verse: In this verse, Ghalib talks about secrets and about covers hiding those secrets. Feel the words he has used in construction of this verse: intimacy, voice, secret, concealment, and cover. Mehram is one who is close to secret and hidden stuff; Hijab is veil that hides the face; and parda is covering that hides things behind it. In Urdu, brassiere’s cups or bra are also called Mehram; may be because they are close to bosom or because they cover secret part of body; intimate apparel.

 To an ordinary person, a murder victim does not tell any story; however, a good detective hears him loud and clear. The whole forensic science is explained in this one verse of Ghalib: If we keep our eyes open and remain alert, secrets become an open book. 

 During his life Ghalib saw Western technology, based on research and inventions, rapidly filtering into India. He must have been impressed by locomotive engines, electricity, and machinery. In one of his Farsi poem he exhorts “Kar-e-mard-e-Hushyar beeN” Look at the work of smart people. I think in this she’r, he is reflecting importance of that smartness, curious mind, research, and invention needed for uncovering the secrets of nature.

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