aa;xir ((adam se kuchh bhii nah ukh;Raa miraa miyaa;N
mujh ko thaa dast-e ;Gaib paka;R lii tirii kamar

1) after all, I wasn't the least bit destroyed/uprooted by nonbeing, my friend
2) I had an 'unseen hand'-- I grasped your waist!



((adam : 'Non-possession, lack, want; non-existence, nonentity; nothing; annihilation; state of being lost; loss (of); absence; paucity, deficiency; default (of); neediness, destitution; non-performance, non-observance'. (Platts p.759)


ukha;Rnaa : 'To be rooted up or out, be plucked up or out, be extracted, be dug up, be extirpated; to be wiped out, effaced; to be scattered, dispersed; to be pulled down, razed, demolished, &c.; to break up; to be struck (a tent); to slip out, be dislocated (a bone); to be pulled, torn or ripped off; to be broken or severed (as friendship); to become alienated or estranged; to become displeased or offended (with, - se )'. (Platts p.68)


dast-e ;Gaib : ''The hidden hand'; a charm or incantation by means of which a hidden hand supplies one's wants'. (Platts p.516)


;Gaib : 'Absence; invisibility; concealment; anything that is absent, or invisible, or hidden (from sight or mental perception); a mystery, secret; an event of futurity; the invisible world, the future state (= ((aalam-e ;Gaib ); —adj. Absent; invisible, unseen, unapparent; hidden, concealed; latent; mysterious, secret'. (Platts p.774)

S. R. Faruqi:

A witty style of expression, a twitchy-vitality [pha;Rakpan], freshness of words-- in every respect this verse is a superb [bahtariin] example of Mir's mastery. The beloved's waist is said to be nonexistent. But the speaker wasn't at all inconvenienced by this nonexistence. Consider how Mir has, by writing ukh;Raa instead of [the more common] big;Raa , created the limit case of mischievousness.

The 'unseen hand' [dast-e ;Gaib] is a quality of some 'friends of God': even without any outward means of income, they remain well-endowed and flourishing and generous. Using the dictionary meaning of this phrase, he has created a new pleasure. If your waist was nonexistent, what harm did that do me? For taking hold of a nonexistent thing, what can possibly be better than an 'unseen hand'? I had an 'unseen hand', I grasped your waist.

The pleasure is that even to grasp your waist at all is proof of an 'unseen hand', because if the waist was nonexistent, then it was possible to grasp it only with an 'unseen hand'. Since I grasped the waist, it was thus proved that I had an 'unseen hand'.

The theme of the waist and the unseen, Jalal too has versified very well, although indeed without a wit and trickiness like Mir's:

((adam kuchh duur ((aashiq se nahii;N himmat agar baa;Ndhe
kamar mil jaa))e us but kii jo mi;Tne par kamar baa;Ndhe

[nonexistence is not very far from the lover, if he would gather his courage
the waist of that idol would be obtained, if he would 'gird up his waist' for being erased]



Truly it's an amusing verse! Mir doesn't have as many wild and crazy, madly witty and wittily mad, verses as Ghalib does, but he's by no means devoid of a fine sense of humor. (So much for Azad and his depiction of Mir as a quivering mass of ronaa-dhonaa , a pathetic innocent who never in his life had any fun.)

The ((adam in the first line invites us to imagine a jaunty or grandiose (Ghalibian) speaker, who might be in, or even beyond, some form of 'nonbeing'. But the second line makes us aware that it is the beloved's waist that has the quality of 'nonbeing'. What about the speaker himself? He and his addressee, the beloved, are left in a kind of existential limbo.

It's hard enough to decide how to translate a wide-ranging word like ((adam (see the definition above); but a phrase like dast-e ;Gaib is tricky indeed. For ;Gaib can be either a noun or an adjective. If it's taken as a noun, 'the hand of the Unseen' sounds a bit religious or at least portentously philosophical. By taking it as an adjective, we get 'unseen hand', which sounds much more versatile. (I would have liked 'invisible hand', but unfortunately Adam Smith and the economists got there first.) Then, is it 'an', or 'the', unseen hand? This too makes a difference in tone. In view of the lightness and wit of the present verse, I chose accordingly; but a case could also be made for going the other way.