ve din ga))e kih aa;Nkhe;N daryaa-sii bahtiyaa;N thii;N
suukhaa pa;Raa hai ab to muddat se yih do-aabaa

1) those days have gone, that the eyes used to flow like rivers
2) it has lain dry now for some time, this 'two-water' [tract]



bahtiyaa;N thii;N is an archaic form of bahtii thii;N


do-aabah : 'A tract of country lying between two rivers which unite after running some distance; the country between the Ganges and Jamna'. (Platts p.529)

S. R. Faruqi:

It's well known that Mir had taken the 'two-water' theme from Baqaullah Baqa Allahabadi. Muhammad Husain Azad reproduced Baqa's two verses in aab-e ;hayaat [pp. 211-12]:

in aa;Nkho;N kaa nit giryah dastuur hai
do-aabah jahaa;N me;N yih mashhuur hai

[the constant weeping of these eyes is a custom
this 'two-water' is famous in the world]

sailaab se aa;Nkho;N ke rahte hai;N ;xaraabe me;N
;Tuk;Re jo mire dil ke baste hai;N do-aabe me;N

[from the flood of the eyes, we stay in a ruin
in that the fragments of my heart live in a 'two-water']

Muhammad Husain Azad says, 'The Lord knows whether Mir Sahib had head this and then composed his verse, or whether a 'coincidence' [tavaarud] occurred'. In any case, Baqa became angry, and composed this verse-set as a 'satire' [hajv]:

miir ne gar tiraa ma.zmuun do-aabe kaa liyaa
ai baqaa tuu bhii du))aa de jo du((aa denii ho

[if Mir took your theme of the 'two-water'
oh Baqa, you too give a blessing, if it would be necessary to give a blessing]

yaa ;xudaa miir kii aa;Nkho;N ko do-aabah kar de
aur biinii kaa yih ((aalam ho ki tirbenii ho

[oh Lord, make Mir's eyes a 'two-water'
and of his vision this condition: that it would be a 'three-strander' [where three rivers converge]]

But the truth is that Mir has taken this theme from one level to a whole different one. His verse is complex/layered to the maximum possible degree. In contrast to this, both of Baqa's verses that Muhammad Husain has presented are entirely superficial, and the second verse is based on an extreme artificiality; or rather, the second verse of Baqa's satiric verse-set is truly in a class by itself:

In any case, in Mir's verse it's not revealed whether the tears are dry because now the heart doesn't want to weep, or because the speaker wept so much that the tears have entirely dried up. The same idea appears in this [unpublished] verse of Ghalib's too:


But Ghalib's first line is trifling-- as contrasted with Mir's verse, in which both lines are equally effective. In the first line the harmony of the word 'river' is so effective that the mood of rolling waves comes before one. If in place of ve din ga))e there were some expression of repentance, or some straightforward account, then the ambiguity-created meaningfulness would not be obtained.

For the inner self to become so fed up with grief that it would renounce grief; or for grief to settle within the depths of the heart in such a way that it couldn't be expressed through tears; or to have wept to such an extent that now there wouldn't be any tears left-- these are all states of extreme grief. The outward colorlessness of the style of expression has illumined all these possibilities of meaning.

As against this, Fani has used the 'vasokht' [vaaso;xt] style and made the verse limited, although the second half of the first line is a very affecting phrase, and saves the verse from being commonplace:

faanii jis me;N aa;Nsuu kyaa dil ke lahuu kaa kaal nah thaa
haa))e vuh aa;Nkh ab paanii kii do buu;Ndo;N ko tarastii hai

[Fani, that in which-- not to speak of tears-- there was no famine of the heart's blood
alas, that eye now longs for two drops of water]

In this present verse, too, Mir has used the theme of helplessness with his own special dignity. The theme of the eyes' being a river, and then drying up, Mir has versified elsewhere as well. But not every verse has been able to have what the present verse does. No doubt there's the 'two-water' image, and to that extent it will be necessary to recognize his indebtedness to Baqa Allahabadi. From the first divan [{366,10}]:

aage daryaa the diidah-e tar miir
ab jo dekho saraab hai;N dono;N

[formerly, the wet eyes were a river, Mir
now if you look, they are both a mirage]

From the third divan [{1222,2}]:

daryaa-sii aa;Nkhe;N bahtii hii rahtii thii;N so kahaa;N
hotii hai ko))ii ko))ii palak ab to tar kabhuu

[river-like eyes kept flowing; but where
is one or another eyelash now ever even wet?]

The theme of the eyes' becoming dry, Mir has also finely versified in the sixth divan [{1807,3}]:

suukhii pa;Rii hai;N aa;Nkhe;N mirii der se jo ab
sailaab un hii ra;xno;N se muddat ravaa;N rahaa

[my eyes, which have been lying there dry for a long time now--
from those very breaches/holes for a long time a flood kept flowing]

Farqi Anjadani too has well composed [in Persian] the theme of the eyes becoming dry:

'My eyes, which at one time used to have the wealth of a hundred treasuries--
now their work has remained to wring out the eyelashes.'

[See also {483,2}; {518,3}; {1806,2}.]





this verse is a splendid mushairah verse, and it works just the same way. For do-aabah , withheld to the last possible moment, energizes the verse with a sudden enjoyableness just as do-;xvaabah does. And like a typical mushairah verse, this one then immediately bursts like a bubble; we know we've gotten the full pleasure that it has to offer, and there's no point in lingering over it. (Whereas {60,3} is so brilliantly enjoyable that it's hard not to linger over it, even after its 'punch' has been delivered.)

In English, for a tract of land between two rivers there's no other word than 'island'; it's a pity we don't have anything like Greek's 'mesopotamia'. In Urdu of course there's the excellent do-aab or do-aabah , which is immediately and intuitively clear, and also makes for a rich flow of wordplay, as SRF demonstrates. So I've coined the absurdly clumsy 'two-water' in order to keep the imagery transparent.

On the translation of ga))e as 'have gone', see {48,7}.