la;Rkaa hii thaa nah qaatil-e naa-kardah-;xuu;N hanuuz
kap;Re gale ke saare mire ;xuu;N me;N bhar chalaa

1) he was only/emphatically a boy, wasn't he-- the slayer who hadn't committed murder, now/still?
2) having soaked/'filled' all the cloth on my throat/neck in blood, he moved on



S. R. Faruqi:

This verse is an example of a particular kind of accomplishment in poetry. Hasrat Mohani was very much against such themes, which in his view were 'foolish' or 'frivolous', because in his opinion such themes damaged the depth/force of the ghazal. He would have called the theme of the present verse too, 'foolishness'. And in truth this theme is such that the temperament rejects it. To declare a young boy to be a slayer, then to give a sword or dagger into his hand and imagine that he is inexperienced, so that his blow was ineffective, then that after soaking the collar of his prey in blood he went away, or ran away-- this is not the kind of theme that would be able to evoke 'rapture' [vajd].

But look at the trimness of the whole verse, and the suitability of the words. In a few words he's told a whole story. Then, in the tone there's no complaint or anger; rather, he's exculpating the young slayer. The image in the second line is also fine. In the verse there's also a kind of desirousness, because no respectable man's heart will be attracted to a boy so young! And the boy too is particularly unnatural, since despite being so young he feels sensual attraction, and he's acquainted with the ways and means of slaying a lover. Few such verses on the theme of boy-love [amrad-parastii] are to be found.

Atish too has used the theme of a blow's proving feeble:

kuchh jo ;Gairat hai to ay saffaak ik vaar aur bhii
za;xm ochhe ha;Nste hai;N mu;Nh par tirii talvaar ke

[if you have any pride, then, oh butcher, one more blow as well!
the trifling wounds laugh in the face of your sword]

But Atish's first line is very loose. In addition, he hasn't expressed in the verse any special reason for calling the beloved a butcher. In the style of address there's such excessive verbosity that doubt begins to arise about the speaker's sincerity. If a wound had really been inflicted, then there wouldn't have been such a lofty tone. Although indeed, in the second line he has well composed the laughing of the wounds. But Mir, by having shown the cloth around the throat to be wet with blood, has created a fine implication of the wounded neck. To mention the cloth around the throat also bestows Mir's special realism, because in it there's an allusion to everyday life.

[See also {558,5}.]



That entirely colloquial nah in the first line is what energizes the verse ('he was only a boy, wasn't he?' or 'he was only a boy, do you see?'). It also has the effect of surrounding the word 'slayer' with negations-- nah qaatil-e naa is, subliminally and aurally at least, very striking. Plainly the evidence presented in the second line is going to convince the hearer of the naivete or childish ineptitude of the slayer.

The first line thus causes us to think of naa-kardah-;xuu;N hanuuz as an exculpatory report of the young boy's past history-- he was only a kid after all, in the whole course of his life he had never killed anyone! Only after hearing the second line do we realize that the phrase is also a precise account of his present actions: he hasn't yet actually finished off his current victim, the speaker.

The second line illustrates the boy's immaturity through two childishly inept actions: the boy attacked ineffectively, and then he went away. Presumably a mature, competent slayer wouldn't have attacked so ineffectively in the first place; and if by chance his blow hadn't sufficed, he would have renewed the attack and finished off his prey. We don't know why the mature slayer would finish off the prey (perhaps out of stubbornness or annoyance, perhaps even out of compassion for its suffering).

But then, in a nice touch, we also don't know why the immature slayer abandoned his wounded prey and moved on. Was he bored? Was he frustrated? Was he sulky, and ashamed of the evidence of his ineptitude? Or might he even, as SRF suggests, have run away in panic? It thus turns out that the wilful, impulsive, hasty child has in common with the 'mischievous' mature beloved a certain deadly opaqueness that the lover cannot quite fathom, but can only observe-- and then, as a rule, lovingly condone.