shab'haa bah ;haal-e sag mai;N ik ((umr .sarf kii hai
mat puuchh un ne mujh se jo aadmii-garii kii

1) nights with the condition of a dog, I have spent for a whole lifetime
2) don't ask what humanity/'human-ness' she showed/'did' toward me!



aadmii : 'A descendant of Adam; a human being; man; individual, person; adult; a sensible, or honest man'. (Platts p.33)


garii : 'Acting, doing; practice; trade, office (used as last member of compounds)'. (Platts p.907)

S. R. Faruqi:

In this verse sarcasm toward oneself, raillery, sarcasm toward the beloved, expression of one's own helplessness-- all this has been brought together with such beauty that even in Mir's poetry (which has no lack of verses of this kind) this verse looks choice/rare. To construe a lifetime spent like a dog as aadmii-garii is the height of both sarcasm and individual autonomy. The opposition between a man and a dog is superb in itself; an extra pleasure is that a dog also has an unlimited 'affinity' with a man.

This is the reason that if the dog is not the first animal to be domesticated, it is certainly among the first group that became domesticated and were reared in men's homes. On the basis of the affinity between men and dogs, and of some noteworthy qualities in dogs such as faithfulness and contentment, the dog is called in English 'man's best friend'.

In shab'haa bah ;haal-e sag there are two pleasures. One is that at night, the presence of dogs and their barking is more keenly felt. (See Pitras's essay called kutte .) And the second is that at night a dog wanders around in its own street, and spends the whole night awake, or in a state of half-wakefulness. This is also the state of the lover (the speaker), that he passes the night in the beloved's street.

The word aadmii-garii is here very excellent and full of meaning. In one respect, its meaning is 'the task of making a man, the act of making a man'. This is because the suffix gar means 'maker'-- for example, baadshaah-gar , kiimiyaa-gar , etc. In another respect it means 'humanness, a task of a human kind', because the suffix gar is also used to describe professions-- for example, baavarchii-garii which is the profession of a cook or the work of a cook, munshii-garii , etc. It's obvious that in this verse both meanings are entirely appropriate.

In the fourth divan, in a ghazal with the same 'ground' and meter as the present one, he has used this same rhyme-word in the second meaning-- thus in that verse, the pleasure is very little [{1500,2}]:

shab sun ke shor meraa kuchh kii nah be-dimaa;Gii
us kii galii ke sag ne kyaa aadmii-garii kii

[last night, having heard my clamor, it showed no ill-temper
the dog of her street-- what humaneness it showed!]

In both the meanings of aadmii-gar , the form aadam-gar is also included. In one place Mir has used aadam-gar with the second meaning; it is similar to {1500,2} in theme. From the second divan [{750,1}]:

shab-e raftah mai;N us ke dar par gayaa
sag-e yaar aadam-garii kar gayaa

[last night I went to her door
the beloved's dog showed humaneness, in passing]

[A critical discussion of definitions given by Barkati in his dictionary.]

The theme of calling oneself the beloved's dog, someone has used with great skill in Persian:

'At dawn I came to your street; you had gone hunting.
When you didn't take a dog with you, then what was the point of going?'

In Mir's present verse, if the perfume of human love were not so apparent, then we could have classified it as an ode to the Prophet [na((t] as well. Shaikh Farid ud-Din 'Attar has written, in the preface of his [Persian] book ta;zkirah ul-auliyaa , that 'Hazrat Jamal Musalli's whole life was spent in painful longing, and in expending wealth, so that somehow or other he would obtain a place in a grave near the holy grave of His Excellency. When he obtained a place, then at the time of his death he commanded that it should be written on his tomb, 'His dog has lain down at his door'.'

It's possible that Muhammad Jan Qudsi, the famous poet of Shah Jahan's court, might have obtained the theme of one verse of his universally famous na((t from that anecdote told by Shaikh Attar. Muhammad Jan Qudsi's verse is:

'I compared myself to your dog-- and I am much ashamed,
For the comparison with the dog of your street is an impropriety [be-adabii].'

On Qudsi's na((t , dozens of 'incorporations' have been written. Ghalib too has composed a poem of five-line stanzas [;xamsah], but even Ghalib was unable to create a 'reply' to this verse.

Mir moved away a bit and composed one; and he used such a style that the verse can be one of na((t , and also one of human love. From the sixth divan [{1907,2}]:

fa;xr se ham to kulah apni falak par phe;Nke;N
us ke sag se jo mulaaqaat musaavaat rahe

[from pride we would throw our cap into the air
if she would keep meeting and treating us like her dog]



I remember how surprising it was to learn that a Shi'a name that I'd long thought was probably a poorly transliterated 'Qalb-e Ali' ('heart of Ali') was actually in truth 'Kalb-e Ali' ('dog of Ali'); one of Ghalib's last patrons was Nawab Kalb-e Ali Khan of Rampur. There could hardly be any better testimony to the cultural vision of the dog as, above all, both humble and loyal, a faithful servant rather than a pampered pet. And if the dog is humble and faithful, the second line is pushed strongly toward a reading in which the beloved's 'humane' behavior will be treated with heavy and bitter sarcasm.

And then in the second line, the insha'iyah structure combines with the 'inexpressibility trope' to extraordinarily powerful effect: 'Don't ask how 'humanely' she treated me!' (You don't want to know!) In this case the 'tone' seems to be truly built in; for more on 'tone', see {724,2}.

Note for grammar fans: Mir has omitted a ne in the first line (as he often does), but then has used one in the second line. There couldn't be a more conspicuous example of how free he feels to play with this aspect of grammar.