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A Reluctant Ghazal

May 8th, 2014 at 8:27 pm (Uncategorized)

You’re more harmful than a flame’s rays Erica

That attracts moths from faraway Erica

You shone much brighter than the sky

Your beauty turned my night to day Erica

The small cracks in your mind grew wide

Before my eyes, you drift away Erica

Our shared bruise is nothing compared

To the deep pain of my hearts frays Erica

My competitor proved too strong

Even though he is dead and gray Erica

Change can not bear to stay so close

Now I must be on my way, AmErica


For this post I wore a ghazal to accompany The Reluctant Fundamentalist. The Urdu ghazal is one of the most famous forms of poetry of the Urdu language. These poems are always narrated by a tortured lover “hopelessly in love with an indifferent, even cruel, beloved” (Petievich 3). This is the scenario that Changez finds himself in The Reluctant Fundamentalist. He is in love with Erica, she is in love with her childhood friend Chris, who died recently. His death did not sever her deep connections to him, and Changez has no hope of eating her away from him. As Erica sinks deeper into her mind and her nostalgia for Chris, she become the indifferent, and unknowingly cruel beloved of the ghazal. The narration of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, is very poetic and Changez describes Erica using some of the common images employed by Ghazal writers. Therefore, it seems possible that Changez could write a ghazal like the one I have written above.

My ghazal follows the basic rules of all ghazals, but with a twist. My meter comes from the last line of each couplet having 11 syllables, and the first line having 8. All ghazal’s have a radif, a repeated word or phrase preceded by a qafiyah, a rhymed syllable. My radif is Erica and my qafiyah is -ay. However the last line of my ghazal ends with America. I chose this play on words because I believe Mohsin Hamid purposefully meant for the name of Changez’s love to closely resemble Erica. Changez’s relationship with Erica is a close parallel with his relationship to America. As Erica sinks into nostalgia Changez’s believes that “ America, too, was increasingly giving itself over to a dangerous nostalgia” (Hamid 53).  Even Changez’s name seems to be a play on the English words “changes”, which inspired me to use Change as the pseudonym in the last couplet.

Throughout the ghazal I used traditional Urdu imagery along with imagery that Changez uses to describe Erica. In the first couplet I use the image of a moth and a candle inspired by this quote, “whenever a candle-flame is mentioned in the ghazal, a moth is not far to be found” (Petievich 6). The inspiration for the third couplet comes from Changez describing Erica’s eyes, “ I perceived that there was something broken behind them, like a tiny crack in a diamond…” (Hamid 27). The fourth couplet refers to the bruise Changez’s gets from a scooter collision that is in the same spot as a bruise Erica gets from tae kwon do.


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