:zaalim kahii;N to mil kabhuu daaruu piye hu))e
phirte hai;N ham bhii haath me;N sar ko liye hu))e

1) cruel one, somehow meet us sometime, [in a state of] having drunk liquor/wine
2) even/also we wander around, [in a state of] having taken our head in our hand



S. R. Faruqi:

In this and the following verse [{611,2}] are the same 'meaning-creation' and wittiness of temperament that are Mir's specialty-- that apparently it's a 'pathetic' matter, but he has said it in a cheerful tone. In this way its importance is not reduced, but between the speaker and the circumstances (the event, or the experience) a distance comes to exist, and unnecessary sentimentality is avoided.

In the opening-verse there are a number of points of such interest that they can be presented as models of their kind:

(1) The beloved will be inclined toward murder when she is intoxicated. That is, she's not a killer by nature, but in intoxication perhaps she might deal the stroke. Or again, when she's in her senses she won't consider the speaker/lover worthy even of being slain. (That is, seeing him extremely low, vile, and petty she won't wish to kill him.) Though indeed, in the grip of intoxication, if she kills him she kills him. On this theme see also the following verse:


(2) To be slain by the beloved's hand is of course the goal of his life, but it's also a kind of game. That is, the best pastime in life would be to confront the beloved and have her slash off his head. This interpretation has entered in because the tone of the verse is based on informal conversation and the kind of ardor that enters the heart for projects of amusement-- 'Oh, come on [are bhaa))ii], get together with me somehow when you're drunk, I'm wandering around longing for my head to be cut off!'.

(3) To speak of the ardor for decapitation by saying 'we are wandering around with our head in our hand' (that is, having cut off the head and placed it on the hand) is an enjoyable paradox, and creates ironic tension.

(4) In the second line ham bhii has two meanings. One is that there are others like us. According to the second interpretation, it is an expression of intensification and insistence [kalmah-e ishtidaad-o-taakiid]-- that is, it is there in order to add force.

(5) The word :zaalim too bears here a great affinity, and an idiomatic beauty. For general discussion, see




(6) Similarly, in the word daaruu there's the pleasure of everyday speech; it also creates informality in the style and character of both the beloved and the speaker. Because of this word, the beloved seems to be a wanderer in the bazaars, an informal and playful type, and a free-spirited person. For in the word daaruu there's a popular touch that's not present in baadah , mai , sharaab , etc.

It happens that daaruu too is a foreign word, but in the meaning of 'wine' it's Urdu. In Persian daaruu means 'medicine', and daaruu-e mastii is something that is added to wine to increase intoxication. [Further discussion of Persian usages and implications.] The power of a popularly-known [desii] word is in its immediate effect and force. Mir says in the third divan [{1292,1}]:

sunaa jaataa hai ay ghatye tire majlis-nishiino;N se
kih tuu daaruu piye hai raat ko mil kar kamiino;N se

[it's heard, oh murderer, from members of your gathering,
that you have drunk liquor last night, in the company of wretches]

Here and in the present verse, if baadah would be put in place of daaruu , then the pleasure and force of the verse would be reduced by half.



Note for grammar fans: The rhyming elements in this ghazal basically consist of the perfect participle of various verbs (except for {611,3} which enjoyably surprises us by avoiding the construction). The effect of the perfect participle is to convey continuing effects of an action: piye hu))e is 'in a state of having drunk', while the more common pii kar simply refers to the action itself: 'having drunk'. Similarly, sar ko liye hu))e is 'in a state of having taken the head'-- that is, 'carrying the head'. I'm always surprised at how many Urdu students don't understand participles very well.

Note for translation fans: With a word like daaruu , about which SRF makes such a strong case for its colloquial roughness, it's tempting to think of slang words like 'booze'. The basic reason to resist the temptation is that almost all such slang is extremely local both in space (including social space) and in time (it changes constantly). And hardly anything sounds more obtrusive and foolish than a really wrong slang word forced into a context where it doesn't at all fit. I could give some awful examples, but I'll refrain. Translators (and language students), take note: it is really hard to fully command the slang of a place and time that is not your own! Almost always, you'll be better off with something simple and relatively standard.