abhii ik ((umr ronaa hai nah kho))o ashk aa;Nkho;N tum
karo kuchh suujhtaa apnaa to bahtar hai kih dunyaa hai

1) only/emphatically now, it's necessary to weep for a whole lifetime; you eyes, don't lose tears!
2) if you make some preparation/arrangement for yourself, then it's better-- for the world exists



suujhtaa : 'Preparation, setting right, arrangement, management'. (Platts pp. 695-96)

S. R. Faruqi:

In this verse several things are crucial. The first is the theme, that it's necessary to weep for a lifetime-- and its second aspect, that the speaker knows that it's necessary to weep for a lifetime. It should be noted that he hasn't said ((umr bhar kaa ronaa , which would have meant 'for there to be a grief that would always remain fresh'. The meaning of ik ((umr ronaa is that weeping and shedding tears would remain his practice. If we suppose the speaker to be the lover (which is almost certain), then the idea is that for a whole lifetime he will never have a chance to win the beloved's affection, to meet with her, or to be vouchsafed her kindness; and his whole lifetime will be spent in weeping and weeping.

The aforementioned point is also fine, that from the very beginning the speaker has known that it is necessary to weep for a lifetime. Either the lover is so lacking in courage that he has absolutly no hope of success, or else the beloved is so far away (psychologically, or physically, or socially) that to meet with her is entirely impossible.

A second aspect, and a very important part of the theme, is the tone of this verse-- one in which there's not a trace of bitterness, self-pity, lamentation, resentment, or any such thing that would indicate that the speaker was undergoing a great hardship. The tone is absolutely plain, matter-of-fact, that of everyday conversation: that it's necessary for us to weep for our whole lifetime. It's as if it was not weeping but entering someone's service-- that in it one's life would pass in one way or another.

Those people who consider Mir to be the king of mourners and breast-beaters, and who have in their minds the romantic image that poetry is only what would sit always with its tearful face downcast, ignore verses like this. in which the bitternesses and failures of life have been treated as an ordinary part of life. In Mir's poetry there are very few conventional, standard 'pathetic' verses; and in his poetic world such verses have no special importance. Rather, Mir's special art/skill/craft lies in the way he takes even standard 'pathetic' themes and, through the light of his temperament and the inventiveness of his imagination, makes them both unconventional and accessible to ordinary people.

Thus a third important aspect of the present verse is its wordplay. The eyes are being told that they should not waste tears; rather, they should make their preparations-- that is, to look out for their own benefit, to look ahead. For the eyes and the tears both, it hardly needs to be said how suitable is apnaa suujhtaa karnaa . But it should certainly be noted that when the eyes would be full of tears, then not much can be seen. Thus between the instruction to weep very little, and the instruction for the eyes to look ahead, is an affinity as well.

The phrase dunyaa hai too is fine; it's the height of light/swift speech. The world's self-seeking, its vice of not being helpful to others, its custom of not being faithful to anyone-- all these things have been expressed in merely those two words.

Another aspect of the theme is that the way it used to be believed that for every person there was a fixed quantity of laughter and happiness, so that if someone is very happy at the beginning of life, then he will have to weep at the end, in the same way in this verse there's also the suggestion that there's a fixed quantity of tears-- how much he will have to weep in his life. If he weeps all the tears in the very beginning, then in the latter part of his life his eyes will remain dry.

Among Mir's special themes is this one: that with weeping and weeping the eyes would dry out, or there would remain no strength for weeping. See for example:




In Mir's world, to weep with turmoil and tumult is better than to remain silent, because weeping is a symbol of life. If the strength to weep does not remain, that is a sign of the coming of death. There is beauty in weeping; in the drying of tears there is poverty. From the third divan [{1278,9}]:

us ;husn se kahaa;N hai :gal:taanii motiyo;N kii
jis ;xuub.suuratii se miir ashk hai;N ;Dhalakte

[in the rolling of pearls, where is anything like that beauty
the beauty with which, Mir, tears flow down?]

In nah kho))o aa;Nkho;N tum , the aa;Nkho;N is a vocative-- 'oh eyes, don't waste tears!'. But if we take ashk khonaa to be a phrase, its meaning is 'to lose because of tears, or by means of tears'. Then the interpretation becomes 'Don't weep and weep until you lose your eyes (the way Hazrat Ya'qub's eyes gradually went). Now the whole world, or the whole lifetime, is before you-- if you don't have eyes, then how will you manage?' In the light of this meaning, apnaa suujhtaa karnaa has a new pleasure.



SRF assumes that the tears are for the loss, absence, etc. of the beloved; but nothing in the verse causes us to think so. Instead of the usual complaints about her cruelty and 'tyranny', we have only that pithy, abstract-sounding warning, kih dunyaa hai , which is so much more ominously effective than any more specific description could be. The addressee is being enjoined to remember the (somehow sinister) presence of the world, and the need to deal with it through practical preparation.

And what should this practical preparation consist of? Not of any aggressive measures; not even of any defensive measures. Most poignantly and amusingly, it consists merely of a rationing system-- of carefully husbanding one's tears, so as to have enough to get through a whole lifetime that has to be lived while, or because, 'the world exists'.

Note for grammar fans: The reading that SRF suggests at the end of his discussion seems to be 'don't lose your tear-eyes', where 'tear-eyes' means something like 'eyes that are being ruined by tears', or 'eyes that have turned into single big tears'.