kahe;N hai;N miir ko maaraa gayaa shab us ke kuuche me;N
kahii;N va;hshat me;N shaayad bai;The bai;The u;Th gayaa hogaa

1) they say Mir was killed last night in her street
2) somehow, in wildness/madness, perhaps, while seated-- he will have arisen



kahii;N : 'Somewhere; anywhere; wherever, whithersoever; —ever, anyhow, by any chance; ever-so-much, far, greatly; —may be, perhaps, peradventure'. (Platts p.808)


va;hshat : 'A desert, solitude, dreary place; —loneliness, solitariness, dreariness; —sadness, grief, care; —wildness, fierceness, ferocity, savageness; barbarity, barbarism; —timidity, fear, fright, dread, terror, horror; —distraction, madness'. (Platts p.1183)

S. R. Faruqi:

In this verse he has told a whole story in a dramatic style, and the pleasure is that he's presented only one part of it in words, and the rest of it he's left to the imagination of the reader-- but in such a way that the mind registers all the details. Mir has made his dwelling in the beloved's street. But his mental state/'mood' is not one of [mystical] absorbedness, but rather one of wildness/madness. News comes that Mir has been killed in the beloved's street. It's possible that he might have become the target of the beloved's sword, it's possible that the people of the street might have showered him with stones.

In the second line, it's been said in a tone of regret that after all he was mad/wild, he must presumably have, while seated, arisen-- and when he arose, then the beloved, angered by his madness/wildness, murdered him, or people showered him with stones.

But if we read it in another tone, then in the second line there's also the expression of an imagined kind of hope, as though the speaker would be reassuring his heart, the way people hear bad news and try to reassure their hearts by giving the news a favorable guise. Thus with an imagined kind of hope he says, 'No, he will not have been killed-- he's mad after all, he'll have arisen and gone away somewhere. Since today he's not to be seen in his usual haunts, people have spread the word that he's been killed.' With regard to this interpretation, there's also an expression of confidence in the beloved and the people of her street-- that those people aren't the kind who would kill Mir.

In the verse there are several characters, and each one's circumstances have become, to the extent of the requirements of the story, entirely clear and founded on reality. Mir, the beloved, the people of the beloved's street, the people who have brought the news of Mir's death, and the speaker of the verse. The madness/wildness of the central character himself (that is, Mir), his tension with the beloved, his innocence, his helplessness-- all these have been expressed with such excellence through suggestions alone, that the eloquence [balaa;Gat] has been doubled.

This verse is a peerless example of the principle of 'implication'. A special pleasure of the verse is that although most of the characters are the same ones who are conventionally present in the world of the ghazal (lover, beloved, people of the street, etc.), even though their presence is conventional, it is also real, it's not metaphorical. The presence of such verses requires an entirely fresh reconsideration of the ghazal's conventionality [rusuumiyaatii] and its poetics both. That is, on how many levels is the presence of the ghazal's conventionality possible? And in what ways can a great poet use them?

[See also {342,7}; {931,11}.]



SRF is so preoccupied with the narrative side of this verse that he hasn't mentioned the obvious, punchy wordplay at its culmination: the enjoyable juxtaposition bai;The bai;The u;Th gayaa hogaa , which is so full of piquant possibilities of both duration and abruptness. After all, anybody might, after sitting still for a long time, 'get up'-- what could be more natural and literal and 'real'? In particular a half-crazed lover might suddenly, wildly 'get up' and dash off somewhere, without warning. Or he might have the mad temerity to jump up without permission in the beloved's presence-- and such insolence might be met with cruel punishment. Yet it's also possible that he metaphorically 'got up' in order to 'leave'-- and the whole vocabulary around 'departure' is as readily capable of suggesting death in Urdu as it is in English ('the dear departed'). So the whole process of being seated, then getting up, may simply convey the idea of a (sudden?) death.

Since it's an 'A,B' verse, the relationship of the two lines is left to us to decide. SRF goes through the main possibilities. Does B explain A? Does B contradict A? Or are they related in some other way?

This verse also creates an unusual 'script effect'. Both lines seem to begin with the same word-- but of course, it's really two different words that contain the same letters (in the predictable absence of diacritics). Since kahe;N hai;N is now archaic, it takes a minute for a modern reader to work out the grammar; this of course isn't an effect that Mir could have intended. But since kahii;N can easily be used in parallel phrases, to speculate on different (and usually undesirable) possibilities, it's tempting to think on first reading that there might be two kahii;N phrases; alternatively, since kahe;N is the modern third-person plural future subjunctive, it's possible to guess that the second line too might begin with kahe;N . We have to flail around a bit, and work to overcome the confusion (just as the event reported in the verse is itself full of confusion and the possibility of error). This is surely an effect that Mir was aware of creating. For if we can readily notice it, how could he have failed to do so? The two lines thus offer a sort of intriguing momentary mirage of parallelism.