dostii ek se bhii tujh ko nahii;N
aur sab se ((inaad hai ham ko

1) you don't have friendship/affection with even one
2) and we have enmity/opposition with everyone



dostii : 'Amity, friendship; love, affection, attachment, intimacy; illicit love'. (Platts p.534)


((inaad : 'Opposition, resistance, disobedience, rebellion; perverseness, obstinacy, stubbornness'. (Platts p.766)

S. R. Faruqi:

In this verse, along with an abundance of meaning there's the pleasure of narrativity. That is, the idea that has been expressed in it also has behind it a background of events. First of all, look at the word dostii . It has two means that are relevant here: (1) friendship; and (2) passion. In the latter sense, Sa'di has said [in Persian]:

'A beloved as lovable as my heart-stealer friend, I have not seen in the world--
For she shows enmity, and increases my friendship.'

Thus the readings of Mir's first line are: (1) you have no one as a friend; (2) you are the lover of no one at all. Now the question arises, who are those people with regard to whom the beloved's behavior is being expressed? These people are either (1) the beloved's lovers; or (2) the people in general of the whole world.

Now let's consider the second line. The beloved has no friendship or love for anyone in the world. But the speaker has enmity with everyone. For the reason that: (1) they are all lovers of his beloved, so that they are Rivals of the speaker's; or (2) although not everybody is a Rival, they can come to be so in the future; or (3) if there were no one else in the world, perhaps the beloved's attention would have turned toward the speaker-- for if there was no one else, at least there was the speaker.

In telling this to the beloved-- that is, that we have enmity toward everybody in the world-- the speaker intends to have two advantages. The first is that 'I am your well-wisher, and I am so much in concord/agreement with you that people whom you don't consider friends, I too don't consider friends'. The second advantage is that the speaker and the beloved both become equals, of the same rank/status. If the beloved has no attachment to anyone in the world, then the speaker too maintains enmity with everyone in the world. Thus in rank/status, he is not less than she. On this reading, the verse recalls


But the situation can also be the mirror-image of this. The beloved has no attachment to anyone, and the speaker has a conflict with everyone. Then, there are two meanings of this: (1) the speaker is not willing to be swayed toward any other beautiful one; (2) the speaker declares the whole world to be his enemy. In such a case, how will the speaker be able to live in this world? He has no hope of 'friendship' with the beloved. And with the people of the world, he himself has created a quarrel. In the words of Ja'far Zatalli, 'Speak, Ja'far-- now how would it be managed?'

In the light of this reading, the word aur becomes very powerful. On such an occasion it can be taken with the meaning of 'but', but here it has many more meanings than that. For example: (1) here the situation is that; (2) our difficulty is that; (3) but what can we do?; (4) our situation is such that; (5) despite this; etc. To create meaning through very small words was Mir's special art. In this art only Mir Anis is, to some extent, his rival; otherwise, Ghalib and Iqbal are much behind Mir in this matter. Although Ghalib had almost a perfect command of Persian idioms, and like Khusrau and Faizi Ghalib makes very small words powerful [in Persian], in Urdu this was not the case.

The story that has been expressed in this verse (or let's put it like this: the story about which there are suggestions in it) by now will already have become clear. But I want to say a few things. The beloved's lovers are many, they all live and breathe in their passion for her, but the beloved has no attachment to anyone at all. On every side are great crowds of those who desire her, and she pays no heed to any of them. The speaker approves of this state of affairs, but nevertheless he has enmity toward the whole world (or toward all the lovers). Thus it seems impossible for him and the beloved to sustain their relationship.

But there's also the fact that the speaker maintains a dignity: 'If you consider the whole world to be beneath your level, and don't establish any of them as your friends, then in this matter we are no less than you'. But in this there's also harm, because if you had considered anyone your friend, then perhaps we too would have made him our friend, and in this way would have tried to come closer to you. How beautifully the complexity of the character is shown-- and yet there are still people who consider this poet to have a 'straightforward' temperament!



This is a quintessential 'A,B' verse, in which deciding on the relationship of the two lines is the primary task-- and charm-- that it offers. How does the beloved's 'not having friendship' connect to the lover's 'having enmity'-- that is, how are the beloved's and the lover's attitudes to be juxtaposed? Are we to take them as similar? Contrasted? Parallel? Cause and effect? So many possibilities-- all created in a poem fourteen words long.

It's enjoyable to think that just as the beloved disdains the clamor of all her importunate lovers, the lover disdains all the 'people of the world', for they might pester or distract him, and thus might jeopardize his passionate, obsessive, 'self-less' absorption in the beloved.

But even better is the possibility that the lover is so crazed by passion that even when the beloved shows no sign of favoring anybody at all, he still is constantly wary of everybody, constantly full of mistrust and hostility-- for might they not be scheming about how to attract such favor in the future? Thus the lover's mind cycles vainly back and forth in his paranoia. Here is Ghalib's take on a similar form of obsessive brooding: