shaayad kih kaam .sub;h tak apnaa khi;Nche nah miir
a;hvaal aaj shaam se dar-ham bahut hai yaa;N

1) it's possible that my 'work' would not be {drawn out / extended} until dawn, Mir
2) conditions today, since the evening, are very confused/jumbled here



khi;Nchnaa : 'To be absorbed, be sucked in; to be drawn out, be extended, be stretched; to stretch...; to be drawn, be delineated, be sketched, be traced; —to be borne, be endured, or suffered'. (Platts p.872)


dar-ham : 'Intermixed, intertwined, entangled, intricate, confused, confounded, jumbled, higgledy-piddledy; —afflicted; vexed, angry; — darham-barham , adj.= darham '. (Platts p.514)

S. R. Faruqi:

This is a verse almost entirely of 'mood'. I've said 'almost' because if it were a verse of pure mood, then the meaning would be extremely little indeed, or else there would be none at all, as Bedil has said-- 'A fine verse has no meaning' [shi((r-e ;xuub ma((nii nadaarad]. Here, the aspect of meaning is that he has used an eloquent idiom [mu;haavarah] like kaam khi;Nchnaa . This has not been found in any Persian or Urdu dictionary; it seems to be Mir's own invention.

The farhang-e aa.sifiyah has no doubt entered it, and has noted this very verse as a 'warrant'. But the reading of the verse is erroneous. [Further discussion of the errors of various dictionaries.] Farid Ahmad Barkati [has contributed] his own meaning: 'to pass the time, to settle'; it's clear that Barkati Sahib too has relied on guesswork. He didn't refer to the present verse, but has noted a verse from the first divan [{270,6}]:

taa shaam apnaa kaam khi;Nche kyuu;N-kih dekhiye
pa;Rtii nahii;N hai jii ko jafaa-kaar aaj kal

[until evening, how will you see your 'work drawn out'?
an oppression-doer does not befall the inner-self, nowadays]

Apart from the fact that in this verse there's an iham of a high order ( aaj plus kal in the meaning 'peace, ease'), from both verses it's clear that Mir has used kaam khi;Nchnaa to mean 'for life to remain, for the breath to keep flowing'. That is, whatever tasks we have, they won't continue until tomorrow; during the night itself their continuity will be cut off. This fresh idiom has put life into the line.

In this connection see also


in which kaam khi;Nchnaa has been taken to mean 'for some matter to arrive at some stage or some conclusion'. It's clear that here too the meaning is the same: that the affair of life will not reach the stage of dawn. It's surprising that the dictionary-makers, despite having these three verses of Mir's before them, have not recorded this idiom; or if they have recorded it, then they have misunderstood the meaning.

Now we'll look at the second line. The word yaa;N means 'my, in my place'. In this way a kind of impersonality has come into the structure, as though the one mentioned is not himself, but some other person. By saying aaj kal he has legitimated the first line: that today, since the evening, the situation is confounded/afflicted here, thus there's no hope of seeing the dawn. He's also created the implication that on other evenings too the situation used to be confounded, but today things are even somewhat worse.

Then, as is his custom, he has used a light/swift form of expression. Instead of elaborating and emphasizing the idea, he has used great understatement; he has said it almost in passing. The mood is so powerful that the attention doesn't at once go in that direction.

Janab Abd ul-Rashid has noted in chiraa;G-e ;hidaayat that [in Persian] kaam kashiidan means 'to be successful'. The claim is entirely correct, but in Persian idiom kaam means 'goal, object, purpose', and kashiidan means 'to obtain', as is clear from [an illustrative Persian verse]. It's obvious that Mir's idiom is [not the same]. It's possible that Mir might have seen the Persian idiom and based his own idiom on it.



If a poet invents a usage, and no one picks it up, is it still an 'idiom'? No doubt it's part of his own 'idiolect', but can it really be considered a mu;haavarah ('idiom, phraseology, common or current speech; usage; practice, habit', Platts p.1007)? The difficulty experienced by the dictionary-makers in even understanding it, and the fact that apparently no one else used it, shows that it really hasn't entered the language. This is just a definitional question (what do we mean by mu;haavarah ?), of course, but I wanted to point it out.

But even if kaam khi;Nchnaa isn't a real idiom, it's not so remote, either. Urdu after all has the well-established idiom kaam tamaam honaa : 'A work or task to be finished, &c.; the business (of a person) to be settled, to be put an end (to), to be killed' (Platts p.804). If somebody isn't 'finished off' or 'done for', if his 'work' is not 'completed', then it's not hard to imagine that his 'work' might be 'drawn out, extended, stretched' for some period of time. The logic of the idiom of course suggests that after a certain amount of drawn-out kaam khi;Nchnaa , the result in the end would still be kaam tamaam honaa . This logic is in perfect accord with Mir's usage.

The tone of impersonal reportage praised by SRF is enhanced by the contrast between the neutral grammar of the second line and the striking bar-ham , which is often encountered in its more vigorous darham-barham form (see the definition above). English counterpart idioms like 'topsy-turvy' or 'higgledy-piggledy' give the same idea. Thus a situation of great confusion and loss of control, is being reported by a narrator who seems unconfused and fully controlled. In retrospect we can recognize the calm gallantry of the first line: the lucid observer is thoughtfully assessing the probable imminence of his own death.