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As a new year begins, here is one of Ghalib’s eternal classics, each couplet in this ghazal is laden with beautiful meaning and brings out a different thought with a convoluted analogy, in quintessential Ghalib style.

unke dekhe se jo aa jaati hai munh par raunaq, woh samajhte hain ke beemaar ka haal achcha hai

This bright glow that erupts on my face when she glances at me,

it makes her believe that my unwell (sickly) condition is doing better now

dekhiye  paate hain  ushshaaq buton se kya faiz, ik birahaman ne kaha hai, ke yeh saal achcha hai

Let us see what favours will be received by lovers, from these idols,

A priest or soothsayer has suggested that this year is going to be a good one..

Ghalib is suggesting that it has been predicted or foreseen by soothsayers that this year will be a good one for receiving favours and rewards from your beloved, so to say they will be more appeasing and open to the idea.

aur  baazaar se le aaye agar toot gaya, saaghar-e-jam se mera jaam-e-sifaal achcha hai

I can buy many more from the market, if this one breaks

My (ordinary) clay cup of wine is so much better than Jamshed’s magical cup that cant be replaced

 The story goes that King Jamshed’s cup was a magical one that could reveal all secrets and could reflect the whole world in it. Ghalib suggests that the humility and ordinariness of regular everyday things is so much better sometimes than special, majestic ones that we all wish and crave for.

qatra dariya mein jo mil jaaye to dariya ho jaaye, kaam achchaa hai woh,  jiska  ma’aal  achcha  hai

When a drop merges with the sea, it becomes the sea

All work is good, if the combined efforts of the work yields good results

The idea here could probably suggest that individuals we should strive to become part of a larger whole, to realize the purpose of our existence and anything done towards this endeavor is good.

bosa  dete naheen aur dil pe hai har lahja nigaah, jee mein kehte hain, muft aaye to maal achcha hai

She doesn’t give me a kiss, but her eyes are firmly on my heart

In her heart she seems to think, if I get his love for free only then is it worthwhile

hamko  ma’aloom  hai  jannat  ki  haqeeqat lekin, dil ke khush rakhne ko, ‘Ghalib’ yeh khayaal achcha hai

We all know the reality of this place called Heaven

Yet, to keep the heart feeling happy and content, the idea of Heaven is a beautiful one


Here is the link to part of the ghazal from the TV series Mirza Ghalib, featuring Naseeruddin Shah as Ghalib and sung by Jagjit Singh.