;xaak bhii sar pah ;Daalne ko nahii;N
kis ;xaraabe me;N ham hu))e aabaad

1) there's not even dust, to put on the head
2) in what [kind of a] ruin did we become settled/flourishing?!



;xaraabah : 'Ruin, devastation, desolation; a waste, waste land'. (Platts p.488)


aabaad : 'Inhabited, populated, peopled; full of buildings and inhabitants, populous; settled (as a colony or town); cultivated; stored; full; occupied; ... —flourishing, prosperous; pleasant; happy'. (Platts p.2)

S. R. Faruqi:

Ghalib's verse comes to mind:


Ghalib's verse is brimful of a wealth of meaning and metaphor, but if Ghalib has taken from Mir a ruin, and in it the inclusion of a handful of dust, that wouldn't be at all strange. In Mir's verse the 'hyperbole' [mubaala;Gah] is very attractive: that the ruin is desolate to such an extent that in it there's not even a handful of dust.

To 'settle/flourish' in a ruin also has an aspect of sarcasm. A ruin in which there would be not even a handful of dust-- to settle/flourish in it is after all the limit case of destruction. To call going and living in such a place 'settling/flourishing' is a subtle/exquisite [la:tiif] idea.

That is, even if passion caused me to 'settle/flourish'-- then where? Or, when wildness and self-destructiveness somehow gave us the chance to catch our breath, then although the place was the extremity of desolation, to us it seemed that here we had become 'settled/flourishing'.

The theme of putting dust on the head, two very minor Persian poets have expressed with such excellence that apparently no improvement was possible. Rukn ul-Din Masih:

'Enough dust that I could put dust on my head because of you--
What can I do, alas-- there's not enough in the garment-hem of this desert.'

Auji Nazri:

'The hand of my hope is too short to reach to the garment-hem of the earth,
I put on my head dust from the 'disturbance of my temperament' [;Gubaar-e ;xaa:tir].'

Both these verses are present in ;xarii:tah-e javaahir , the 'notebook' [bayaa.z] of Mirza Maz'har Jan-e Janan; it's probable that Mir would have been acquainted with them. In Rukn ul-Din Masih's verse there's simplicity, and in Auji Nazri's verse there's 'delicacy of thought'.

Mir, avoiding both of these, has shown that stage of madness where a person considers putting dust on his head to be a necessary, everyday action. As if someone would say, 'For heaven's sake-- in what kind of a place have I made my home, where you can't even get potato curry?'. It's as if putting dust on the head is a normal pursuit of life-- and he's conveyed this idea too, by means of implication. He hasn't said explicitly that for him, putting dust on his head is a necessary everyday task. Rather, it's been said as if this fact is plain and evident to everyone, with no need for explanation or explication.



The insha'iyah possibilities of the second line work excellently. The tones in which the question can be read are like those of the 'kya effect':

=dismay: 'What is this awful ruin!' (The lack even of dust is evidence of its ghastliness; whatever made the speaker think he could be 'settled/flourishing' here?!)
=pride: 'What a total ruin this is!' (The speaker has found the most desolate ruin imaginable, and it suits his passionate madness so well that he's 'settled/flourishing' here!)
=uncertainty: 'What kind of a ruin is this?' (Surely there aren't very many ruins that actually lack dust? Is it really possible that he is 'settled/flourishing' here?)

Thus, as SRF notes, the positive, affirmative sense of aabaad honaa can work ironically-- or for real. Its enjoyable wordplay with ;xaraabah turns out to be, as so often in the ghazal world, meaning-play as well.