while she stands above in her hundred colors’
Happiness, in this line, has left Ghalib critically wounded. Whether in his pursuit of an ideal life or a society’s ideal life, whatever ‘happiness’ is to him, he has not only failed to achieve it, but it has succeeded in ruining him. The beloved seems to stand, unscathed and lofty, above the defeated Ghalib, still adorned with the pristine and elaborate clothing that Ghalib has ascribed to her. We know from historical accounts of Ghalib’s life that he searched, unsuccessfully, for influence, status, and financial stability, none of which he would be able to grasp in his lifetime. This may be the ever- unreachable ‘happiness’ he is referring to here. The beloved seems to have not only found this happiness but fully abides in this state of being. ‘As a boy I almost threw stones at that crazed lover
trapped always in desire but at last I remembered
Leaving I bear the scars of an unfulfilled longing to exist
like an extinguished candle I know no place of friendship... ...Pursuit has unraveled the strings of beauty's veil
leaving nothing but threads for those who can see’
These lines, rich with metaphor, point to a beaten and existentially muzzled Ghalib. Married at thirteen and without a proper education or monetary income; Ghalib’s inner struggle with this life, that had seemingly been thrust upon him, can be seen in the...