ko))ii naa-umiidaanah karte nigaah
so tum ham se mu;Nh bhii chhupaa kar chale

1) we/you would have given some hopeless glance/gaze
2) so you hid even/also your face from us, and moved on



so : 'So, so that, therefore, hence, consequently, accordingly; but then; thereupon; now, well'. (Platts p.690)

S. R. Faruqi:

Jur'at's verse with this rhyme-word is not equal to Mir's, but it's very interesting; it ought to be considered a superb verse of 'affair-evocation':

;xafaa hai vuh yaa;N tak mirii shakl se
chale saath to mu;Nh chhupaa kar chale

[she is so disgusted with my appearance
if she would walk with me, then she would walk with her face hidden]

Here the zila is fine between ;xafaa ('concealment') and chhupaa , but the theme is even better-- that somehow by chance the speaker and the beloved are together (perhaps they're traveling in the same carriage); but the beloved, out of coquetry or shyness or disgust or disaffection, has turned her face in the other direction, or has hidden her face in a regular veil.

In Mir's verse the situation is one that a conventional critic would call 'pathetic'. But in order to learn the difference between Mir's verse and 'pathos', look at this verse by Sayyid Muhammad Khan Rind:

naz((a me;N thaa mai;N tumhe;N mu;Nh se ula;Tnaa thaa niqaab
aa;xirii vaqt to diidaar dikhaate jaate

[I was in death-throes; you should have drawn aside the veil from your face
in the final hour, you should have given a glimpse/sight as you went]

In Mir's verse the situation is very complex, compared to those of Jur'at's and Rind's verses. The lover and beloved are being parted, but the last meeting is taking place not in solitude, but somewhere where other people too are present. Thus the beloved is showing an apparent disaffection, and doesn't even look in the lover's direction. Not to speak of giving a glance full of hopelessness, or a look full of love-- she hides her face from the lover, and leaves.

It's as though her hiding her face is a suggestion of the coming separation, and also of the sorrow of being separated. That is, the beloved's hiding her face and going away is a 'semiotic' action, and sends a 'signal' of the coming of a new era in their mutual relationship.

Declaring the theme of this verse to be the beloved's inattentiveness, Askari Sahib made some remarks that cannot be improved upon. Thus I reproduce his words from 'Mir-ji':

Mir never assumes the beloved's inattentiveness to be due to hard-heartedness and cruelty, or to a naturally bad disposition. In his best verses the beloved too is a human being.... Solitude is the law of life; and when confronting it, lover and beloved are both under duress, and to be excused.... Thus for the lover only one path remains: that in whatever way it might be possible, he should endure his grief.

In the face of this, it's enough merely to say that the same idea emerges from one other verse of this ghazal as well, but in its tone is a bitter sarcasm that reveals the fact that Mir's lover is not silently enduring pain, but rather is also expressing his own temperament [{605,7}]:

bahut aarzuu thii galii kii tirii
so yaa;N se lahuu me;N nahaa kar chale

[there was a great longing for your street
thus from here, having bathed in blood, we set out]

For further discussion of this theme, see:




SRF is sure that it's the beloved whose hopeless gaze or glance is being thwarted by the hiding of her face, but I don't see why. It's surely just as possible that the lover's last hopeless look at her face is what is being thwarted in this way. After all, in the second line we clearly have both a 'you' and a 'we', and karte could quite well go, grammatically, with either one; semantically too, the second line seems cleverly framed to work with either option.

In fact it seems that attributing the glance of hopelessness to the lover yields a richer meaning. For in that case, it could also be that the lover is reproaching the beloved for her unfeelingness ('If only we could have looked, despairingly, at your face once more before you left-- but you didn't let us do even that!'). She might be hiding her face to conceal love-- or disdain, or impatience, or boredom; as so often in the ghazal world, she might simply wish to torment the lover. Who can tell? That so is thoroughly multivalent (see the definition abovel). The crucial gesture of concealing her face remains uninterpretable; whatever the lover might assert to be the reason, he cannot do more than speculate. SRF's scenario too (a pair of devoted, desperate lovers being forced to make their adieux in public) remains, after all, equally speculative.

Note for grammar fans: naa-umiidaanah can be not only adjectival ('hopeless'), but also adverbial ('hopelessly'). In the present verse, it doesn't seem to make much difference.