ik ((umr mujhe ;xaak me;N malte hu))e gu;zrii
kuuche me;N tire aan ke lohuu me;N nahaayaa

1) a single/whole lifetime passed for me, rubbing/anointing myself with/in dust
2) having come into your street, I bathed in blood



malnaa : 'To rub; to rub down (a horse); to scrub, scour; to furbish; to anoint'. (Platts p.1066)

S. R. Faruqi:

He's also composed this theme like this, in the first divan [{605,7}]:

bahut aarzuu thii galii kii tirii
so yaa;N se lahuu me;N nahaa kar chale

[we had a great longing for your street
thus from here, having bathed in blood, we set out]

But in the present verse there's a slight air of dryness that's extremely fine and eloquent [balii;G]. Such an air isn't within the reach of everyone. By bathing in blood the speaker obtained the benefit of having the dust cleaned from his body, and that's without even mentioning the fact that after being bathed in blood-- well, what will even be left of the body?

In {605,7} there's a touch of bitterness; in the present verse, there's not even a suspicion of it. Rather, there's a kind of tranquility: after all, we've finally arrived in that street. There's a small ripple of sarcasm. But outwardly it's a tone of such innocence that that beloved won't even be able to complain. It's a fine verse.

Mir Mahdi Majruh has versified, in a bit of a lighter mood, a different aspect of this theme-- but he's versified it well:

the mulavva;s bahut so maqtal me;N
paak ;xuu;N me;N hu))e nahaane se

[we were very dirty/polluted, so, in the killing-place
we became clean/pure, from bathing in blood]



The imagery paints such a striking before-and-after picture, and yet gives us not a clue as to the emotional valence of the change. After a lifetime of rolling around in the dust by the roadside like a mad lover, 'anointing' himself with dust, pouring dust on his head in grief and longing, the speaker has made a change. Now he's come to the beloved's street-- and now he's bathed in blood.

Is this an improvement (his old place had inferior washing facilities, while his new one is better equipped)? Or is it simply apples and oranges (dust has its assets and liabilities, and so does blood)? Or is he choosing to move toward greater austerity (he no longer needs to bother with dust, but can simply provide his own blood for his ablutions)? Or might he even be in the process of complaining to the Landlord about the specifics of his living situation?

And in general, how does he feel about his move? Does he feel betrayed (he had expected better things from his change of residence)? Does he feel delighted (the new place is everything he'd been longing for for all those years)? Does he feel resigned (after all, no place is perfect)? Does he feel rueful and a little sarcastic, as SRF suggests? Or is he reporting in a flat, neutral tone that's been (deliberately?) stripped of all emotion?

One reason these questions are so radically unanswerable is that the verse simply reports two 'gestures': 'I spent a lifetime doing X; then I went elsewhere and did Y'. These actions are entirely non-verbal-- not to speak of non-realistic-- so any interpretations we make can only be speculative. Yet how can we avoid making some interpretations, since a whole cloud of them hover constantly over the verse? It's the usual ghazal problem; it's part of the poet's ways of making a tiny verse feel inexhaustible.

Streets in the ghazal world are, as a rule, full of dust. If other streets are 'awash' in dust, might the beloved's street be constantly and inherently 'awash' in blood? It might not be (only) his own blood that the speaker has bathed in.