1,378 Readings

Ghalib lists thirty-eight varieties of mangoes in his letters

Because the sky’s vote of ruin

in yellow dust storms

said seven times your life-size mirror will crack

show marks of infant deaths

in cinnabar ink:

Go bury each palpitation of hope


Said your haveli’s thirsty walls

will devour years of rains

flood your bones and your wife’s

and burst through your brother’s



The poet tosses and turns

but always wakes up with Adam’s spark

of mischief and his gift for names


dandles a new divan on his knee

taunting loss

by naming the lust of monsoon

thirty-eight times:


Husan Aara “adorned with beauty”

Enviable beauty


Badami “Almond-like”

Shape of jinn eyes

shape of secret through spy glass


Neelam “Sapphire”

Verandah under the indulgent velvet

of the night-sky


Zafrani “Saffron-like”

Aubade of the beloved’s veil

draped over the window        


Fajri “of the Morning Prayer”

Gold foil rising

Dew under the worshipper’s feet


The poet finds names of mangoes

in the folds between empires:



Man of God

on the chessboard of the great game


Bombay Green:

Green hills where “Chaughaan”

becomes “Polo”



who asks on every stage

what the poet asks


Monsoon moistens the grave

Ghalib inhabits

Mirror in the courtyard webbed with cracks

He pens:

 Nazuk Pasand  “Favoring the Delicate”

Turn of phrase

shard of diamond





Posted 09/05/16
Haveli: Urdu for mansion Divan: Urdu/Persian for a collection of verse
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