;Tuk to rah ay binaa-e hastii tuu
tujh ko kaisaa ;xaraab kartaa huu;N

1) just wait/remain for a little, oh structure of existence, you!
2) how I [will] wreck/ruin you!



binaa : 'Building, structure, edifice; foundation, basis, base; ground, footing, motive; root, source, origin; beginning, commencement'. (Platts p.168)

S. R. Faruqi:

binaa = building

The claim of wrecking the structure of existence, and on top of that the address-- that you just wait a little while, then see what I [will] do to you! -- is very elegant/delicious. It's clear that ;Tuk to rah is idiomatic, and its dictionary meaning is contrary to its use here. On this basis, this tension has been created in the verse.

But in the verse there are other aspects of pleasure as well. For binaa-e hastii can mean one's own existence, it can mean the whole world, it can mean the whole universe. He has also not made clear in what way he will wreck the binaa-e hastii . And ;xaraab has two meanings: (1) desolate and demolished; (2) in a depraved condition; that is, bad. The second meaning is non-physical , as when we say of somebody that his character is ;xaraab , or that so-and-so writes very ;xaraab Urdu. With regard to the first meaning, the ruination of the binaa-e hastii is to make it desolate and destroyed. With regard to the second meaning, its ruination is to make its character dirty and depraved.

By not making clear what kind of ;xaraabii there will be, he has created the pleasure of ambiguity. For example, if his own life is intended, then (1) he will commit suicide; (2) he will become polluted and ruined; (3) he will spend his life dallying with trifles; etc. If the whole world or universe is intended, then (1) he will make it desolate; (2) he will make it so disreputable and evil that people will come to feel disgust for it; (3) he will turn its arrangement topsy-turvy; etc.

Then, binaa-e hastii can also refer to the beloved, the way Mir has in one verse called the beloved baa((i;s-e ;hayaat . From the third divan:


Now the meaning emerges that in only a few days, we will destroy the beloved's character/morality. This interpretation may be remote, but it isn't entirely impossible. Qa'im has a verse,

vuh ;xuub-ruu hai kaun saa jag me;N farishtah-vash
do roz mil ke ham jise bad-;xuu nahii;N kiyaa

[which fine-faced one is there in the world, angel-like,
whom we haven't made, in a few days' companionship, bad-natured]

A theme similar to this one, Mir has versified in the second divan like this [{877,7}]:

;xvaar to aa;xir kiyaa hai galyo;N me;N tuu ne mujhe
tuu sahii ay ((ishq jo tujh ko bhii mai;N rusvaa karuu;N

[you at length have made me vile/wretched in the streets
you indeed, oh passion-- so I would disgrace you too!]

Here the aspects of meaning are very few, and there are no possibilities in the ambiguity. It should be noted that ambiguity is effective when a number of possibilities of meaning would be created, as is the case in the present verse.

If we don't take the beloved to be the binaa-e hastii , then in the verse there's an extraordinary qalandar-like, revolutionary rakishness and affectation [baa;Nkpan aur aka;R]. In it there's a small glimpse of wit/jesting too. If this were not the case, then the verse would be of a low rank. In line with this other reading, the speaker of the verse seems to be a powerful, worldly-wise prankster. He knows that if a stratagem would work on the beloved, then he will apply it [indirectly] 'along the road'.

We can also take binaa-e hastii as 'foundation of existence' (not as 'edifice of existence'); binaa is used in both meanings.



How translatable the mood feels-- 'Just you wait-- you'll see what I do to you!' We've got it in English, exactly. So many ever-changing idiomatic possibilities occur for the content of the threat: 'I'll fix your wagon!', or 'I'll tan your hide!', or 'I'll rip your throat out!', or 'I'll make you sorry you were ever born!', or whatever is the latest. The imperative of 'Just you wait and see!' is a threat, but also cunningly masks a plea: 'Wait, just stay for a little while, don't go yet!'.

The note of wit or humor that SRF mentions has to loom very large in our enjoyment of the verse. A verse of such 'grandiosity' (a category I've invented, just for fun) has to be meant humorously, if it's not to be hopelessly bombastic. To issue dire threats to the 'ground of existence' is surely the height of absurdity: not only is the puny, mortal little speaker guaranteed to be unable to carry them out, but even if he could, the effect would be to saw off the very tree-branch he's sitting on. (Where would he be without the 'ground of existence'?)

The humorous effect is there no matter how we interpret binaa-e hastii , and no matter how we interpret ;xaraab , because it rests on the immensity of the contrast between the threatener and the threatened. It reminds me of the proverb kahaa;N raajaa bhoj kahaa;N ga;Nguu telii -- only more so.

But at the same time, if you prefer, there's always the 'radical madman' option. The lover is crazed, and his wild threats are a sign of his (perhaps culpable, but perhaps also praiseworthy) madness. Who can fail to admire Don Quixote as he gallantly tilts at the windmills, or the solitary champion who challenges an army and goes forth to certain death? Moreover, the mad lover may also be a secret Sufistic superhero-- it's even possible that he actually does have something like the power that he claims. Perhaps the 'ground of existence' should try being a little nicer to him, just to be on the safe side.