Justice delayed is justice denied:
ham ne maanaa kih taghaaful nah karoge lekin
khaak ho jaaeNge ham tum ko khabar hote tak
we accept that you will not show negligence, but
we will become dust by the time of the news reaching you
In the conventional reading, the lover (ham) is addressing the beloved (tum) and a number of ways of interpreting the text are possible as described by Frances Pritchett in A Desertful of Roses.
We will transpose the domain of the verse and let ham represent the citizen and tum the state. What does that yield us?
Well, for one, we can explore the entire gamut of the relationship between the citizen and the state in South Asia in modern times.
Does the citizen (really) believe that the state acts in his or her interest?
Does the citizen believe that the state knows what his or her interests really are?
Does the citizen believe that if the state knew what his or her interests were, it would not neglect them?
If the citizen believes that the state is negligent of his or her interests, what are his or her options?
How long ought the citizen to wait for the state to respond to his or her needs?
Is it the fate of the citizen to turn to dust unrequited?
At what point does enough become enough?
Now replace the citizen with the minority citizen and the entire picture of South Asian governance would be crystal clear before your eyes.
Call it the magic of Ghalib.
The question is: How do you look upon the state now and what can you do about it? Remember that, unlike the lover, the citizen does not need to suffer alone and in silence.
As always, there is another take on this verse at Mehr-e-Niimroz, our partner in the Ghalib Project.