kyaa din the kih ;xuun thaa jigar me;N
ro u;Thte the bai;Th do pahar raat

1) what days they were, when blood was in the liver!
2) we used to burst into tears, having sat ourselves down, for two watches of the night



pahar : 'A division of time consisting of eight gha;Rii or three hours, an eighth part of a day, a watch: ... pahar-raat , s.m. A watch of the night; the first watch of the night (from 6 to 9 P.M.)'. (Platts p.285)

S. R. Faruqi:

The wordplay of 'day' and 'night' here is fine. Then, as a result of blood being in the liver, for there to be convenience in weeping-- this has two implications. One is that weeping is such a liver-demanding task that if there would be no blood in the liver, then weeping would be impossible. The other is that weeping is in reality the weeping of tears of blood. See


And how interesting too is the wordplay of ro u;Thte and bai;Th , and dopahar and raat ! And what a moment of thought it gives for those people who hold the view that in weeping and wailing there can be no artifice, or ought not to be; or who think that in the ghazal not themes, but only emotions, are presented.

Verses like this one prove that in order to understand our classical ghazal, terms like 'autobiography' and 'memoir' [aap-biitii aur jag-biitii] are not as useful as knowledge of language-- or as the feeling that in classical poetry, use of the possibilities of language in a creative way is the most basic starting point.



Fifteen words, and such a network of wordplay! My favorite instance is the pair consisting of 'we sat ourselves down' [bai;Th , short for bai;Th kar], and 'we used to burst into tears', the idiomatic ro u;Thte the , because u;Thnaa literally means 'to rise up'.

There's also a kind of ironic humor in the first line: 'What days they were, when...' is surely the insha'iyah beginning of a nostalgic trip down memory lane. And then, '...when blood was in the liver!' could easily be the preface to further sentimental recollections, since it sounds like a proxy for 'when I was young and healthy'. Who knows-- might not the second line bring us an enjoyable salute to the rakish good old days?

But then-- of course not. 'Those days' turn out to be spent not in drinking or carousing, but in weeping to one's heart's content-- weeping half the night, weeping the whole night (since do pahar covers six hours). What a luxury! (But then of course, for the lover it may really be a luxury.)

Note for translation fans: The colloquial sense of dopahar as 'afternoon' appears to be an entirely separate usage.