aah ke ta))ii;N dil-e ;hairaan-o-;xafaa ko sau;Npaa
mai;N ne yih ;Gunchah-e ta.sviir .sabaa ko sau;Npaa

1) the stupefied and displeased/strangled heart, I confided to a sigh
2) this bud-in-a-picture, I confided to the breeze



ta))ii;N : 'To, up to (- ke ta))ii;N = ko )'. (Platts p.353)


;xafaa : 'Strangulation'. (Steingass p.469)


;xafaa : 'Concealment;—a secret'. (Platts p.491)


;xafaa : 'Displeased, vexed, angry'. (Platts p.491)


ta.sviir : 'Picture; drawing; sketch; painting; portrait; an image'. (Platts p.326)

S. R. Faruqi:

The basic origins of ;xafaa are two. From one [Persian] source it means 'for the throat to be choked' (thus, 'one whose throat would be choked'). From the other [Arabic] source it means 'hidden'. In Urdu this word is used with the sense of 'displeased, vexed', but the first and second meanings too are sometimes to be seen. Thus anonymous or unknown things are said to be in the pardah-e ;xafaa . Here Mir has used the word in such a way that the first and third meanings are fully present, and the second meaning ('hidden') too is not so remote.

Momin, in one of his verses, has used ;xafaa in the third meaning in such a way that benefit has also been derived from the first meaning:

naa-rasaa))ii se dam ruke to ruke
mai;N kisii se ;xafaa nahii;N hotaa

[through failure, if my breath would stop, then it would stop
I am not {angry with / strangled by} anybody]

But Momin's verse doesn't have the 'meaning-creation' of Mir's. Mir gives for the heart the simile of a bud, because its shape is like that of a bud; and the way the bud's petals are tightly shut, in the same way the heart is tightly shut. By saying ;hairaan and ;xafaa , Mir has created in the simile of the bud two further aspects. The heart is silent like a bud; silence means stupefaction, or for the throat to be choked.

But not content even with this, Mir called the heart a 'bud in a picture'; that is, a bud that has no possibility whatsoever of blooming. Then there's also the fact that a picture is just a picture, a lifeless and unreal thing. Thus the heart is not only a bud, but rather the picture of a bud-- there's no possibility of its blooming, it's not even alive. Perhaps it's not even real, it's only a picture.

Then, it's well known about buds that when a breeze blows on them, they bloom. For the kind of bud that the heart is, a cold sigh, or in fact a hot sigh, can do the work of a breeze. For this reason he has confided the heart to the sigh. The heart-- which is stupefied, and of which the breath has been choked-- has the same relationship to a sigh as the bud has to a breeze. By means of a breeze, the bud blossoms; perhaps a sigh will at least manage to lighten the burden of the heart, or save it from death by strangulation. The sense of ;xafaa as 'hidden' is appropriate because until the sigh happened, the state of the heart was not apparent to anyone, as though it was in the pardah-e ;xafaa . It's a fine verse.

[See also {459,3}; {1567,2}.]



Well, Momin's verse may not be as loftily multivalent as Mir's, but it's still irresistibly punchy. Who could fail to relish it? And isn't it instantly compelling and memorizable, in a way that Mir's is not?

Note for grammar fans: Here's a study in the versatility-- and possible confusingness-- of ko . The second line is perfectly straightforward: the speaker confided something 'to' something, where ko marks the indirect object, and the (non-human) direct object is unmarked. But in the first line we have not only a ko marking what turns out to be the direct object , but also its archaic counterpart, ke ta))ii;N (see the definition above), marking what turns out to be the indirect object. So in effect the first line gives us 'I confided X ko Y ko '. Given the flexibility of Urdu word order, how can we tell the direct from the indirect object? Really the only way is through the first line's general semantic parallelism with the second line.

Note for translation fans: Consider the unusual intractability of ;Gunchah-e ta.sviir . Usually I do izafats in the clunky but literal and versatile 'of' form. But 'bud of a picture' sounds like a bud that is going to flower into a picture, the way a rosebud will become a rose. 'Picture-bud' and 'bud-picture' have their own problems. Finally 'bud-in-a-picture' was the best that I could come up with.