tujhe bhii yaar apnaa yuu;N to ham har baar kahte hai;N
vale kam hai;N bahut ve log jin ko yaar kahte hai;N

1a) even/also you, we every time {casually / 'like this'} call our friend
1b) even/also you, friend, we {casually / 'like this'} call our own

2) but very/'many' few are those people whom we/people call 'friend'



yaar : 'A friend; a lover; paramour, gallant; mistress; —companion, comrade; —an assistant; —one of a sect or gang of thieves'. (Platts p.1247)


yuu;N : 'Thus, in this wise, in this manner; —just so, for no particular reason; without just ground, vainly, idly, causelessly, gratuitously; to please oneself'. (Platts p.1253)

S. R. Faruqi:

The 'seating' [nishast] of the words is such that in each of the two lines double meanings have emerged. Let's begin by taking the first line:

1) We {casually / 'like this'} call even/also you, every time, our friend.

2) (Oh) friend, we {casually / 'like this'} call even/also you, every time, our own.

Now look at the second line:

1) But those people are very/'much' few, whom we call 'friend' (that is, who would be worthy of being called 'friend' in the true sense).

2) But those people are very/'much' few, whom (all) people call 'friend'.

The meaning of yaar can be 'friend', and also 'beloved'.

Now the question arises, who is the addressee of the verse? If the addressee is the beloved, then the point has become that although we address her every time as 'our own' (or as 'our own friend'), still there are few such people who in the true sense would be called 'friend'. That is, you are a beloved, but you are not a friend (that is, a well-wisher).

The second meaning becomes that we call you our beloved, but there's no belovedness [ma((shuuqii] in you. There are few people who, on the basis of belovedness, would be addressed as 'friend'. That is, you have no beloved-like airs and graces-- you don't practice tyranny and oppression, you don't show a coquettish style, etc.

The third meaning becomes that although we call even/also you our friend, there are such people whom everyone would call 'friend'. Or, there are not very many people whom I call 'friend'; thus you are a member of a select group. Through all these meanings, the speaker is making a show of his own superiority over the beloved.

If the addressee is not the beloved, then it's some ordinary person, and the speaker is saying to him that the word yaar has two meanings. One is that someone would be called yaar (that is, 'friend', well-wisher) only out of social convention; and the other is that someone would in reality be the beloved, and for her the word yaar would be used. If we every time address you as yaar , then this doesn't mean that you're also a beloved.



It's a cleverly riddling verse, with two occurrences of yaar , a word that itself has the two largely (though not entirely) separate meanings of 'friend' and 'beloved'. SRF has rung the changes beautifully.

A choice and prominent display of wordplay is kam hai;N bahut ve log -- those people are 'greatly few' or, more literally, 'many few'. Mir juxtaposes kam bahut even more directly in {346,1}. Alas, we can't capture in English the versatily of bahut ; we can only do 'very few'.

But there's also the subtler pleasure of yuu;N (see the definition above). If it is taken in its literal meaning of 'like this', then it turns the verse itself into an example of its claim-- 'We always call you friend 'like this'-- that is, the way we're doing it now (whatever that way may be)'. And if it's taken to mean 'casually, without just ground, for no particular reason, vainly', then the implication is thoroughly insulting to the addressee: 'We may call you friend, but it's not necessarily because you deserve it'.

Needless to say, both these readings resonate powerfully with the second line. On some readings, the second line even sets up a whole different sense of yaar : you may be called yaar by casual happenstance, undeservedly; but very few people get called a real yaar , as a serious, honorable compliment, either by us or by others.