kal tak to ham ve ha;Nste chale aa))e the yuu;N hii
marnaa bhii miir-jii kaa tamaashaa saa ho gayaa

1) until yesterday, we were such that we had gone along laughing {casually / like this / easily}--
2) even/also Mir-ji's dying became something like a spectacle



chalaa aanaa : 'To come on or down, to continue (from some past time), to be handed down'. (Platts p.438)


yuu;N hii : 'In this very manner, exactly thus; —without any apparent cause or reason, causelessly, &c. (i.q. yuu;N , q.v.); by chance, accidently; —cursorily, easily'. (Platts p.1253)

S. R. Faruqi:

In the Fort William edition and in Asi, in place of yuu;N hii there has been written yahii;N . We ought to consider yuhii;N to be the old form of yuu;N hii , because if it would be read as yahii;N , 'in this place', then no interpretation emerges. In its present form, the verse is the bearer of an uncommon force.

Place the present verse before this verse of Ahmad Mushtaq's:

anokhii chamak us ke chahre pah thii
mujhe kyaa ;xabar thii kih mar jaa))egaa

[there was a novel radiance on his face,
how did I know that he would die?!]

The difference between the two poets' styles is clearly apparent. For Ahmad Mushtaq, death is a mysterious event and a cause for grief. Life is insubstantial, and also deceives us. It's also possible that life might not deceive us, but we remain ready at all times to be deluded by it, and we consider the last flicker of life on the face of the dying person to be the glow of life.

In contrast to this, in Mir's verse life and death are truly a spectacle. Life is insubstantial; when death will come, no one knows. But to die is a simple kind of task, it's a game. Up until yesterday, he kept laughing and talking; today, we learned that he confided his life to the Life-creator. A feeling of the stoniness and suddenness of death creates no kind of nervous tension.

By saying marnaa bhii he has also created the implication that for that person life too was only/emphatically a spectacle. And in the spectacle of death too no crowded festival assumes the kind of aspect that can be seen in Momin's verse that I have noted in


Mir's death is an individual and existential reality and is a spectacle in one's own existence itself. Compare:


[See also {1224,4}.]



Who is the speaker? SRF takes it to be Mir himself, who notes (grimly? bitterly? indifferently? cheerfully?) that he himself-- or 'Mir-ji', as he sarcastically refers to his persona-- in his show of (mad?) cheerfulness used to be quite a star attraction. Alternatively, the speaker could be a neighbor, since 'Mir-ji' with its tone of mixed respect and friendliness is exactly how his neighbors address him and speak of him: a group of neighbors could be discussing their former enjoyment of his company.

On either reading, 'Mir-ji' used to offer (until yesterday) a show, a sort of cheerful 'spectacle', to the world in general. He habitually smiled or laughed, and/or his visitors came away smiling or laughing from his presence. Did he entertain them with his mordant wit? Was he cheerful and friendly, making light of his tribulations? Was he so naively, helplessly in love that they couldn't help but laugh? Did he persuade them that he wasn't sick at all, or that he was on the mend, or that his sickness was funny? Did his madness take wild, semi-hysterical forms?

Moreover, Mir-ji provided this show, or his neighbors came away afterwards, yuu;N hii , with its multivalent range from 'in this way' through 'casually, by happenstance' to 'cursorily, easily'; for more on these idiomatic possibilities see {120,2}.

Then, the little kal tak , at first so inconspicuous, proves its centrality. It alone suggests, with a finality all the more absolute for appearing so offhand, that 'yesterday' Mir felt the imminence of death, or else actually died. Whether his previous (show of) good cheer was based on his ignoring the possibility of death, or on his gallantly (or madly) laughing in the face of it, everything was shut down 'yesterday'.

It's also worth noting that Mir's life-- and his death as well-- was not exactly a spectacle, but 'something like' [saa] a spectacle. What were the similarities, and what were the differences? It's left to us to decide.

In addition, the bhii can be taken as either 'even' (not only Mir's life was a show, but even his death was-- highlighting the contrast), or 'also' (Mir's life was a show, and so was his death-- highlighting the similarity).

Note for grammar fans: The ve is of course a markedly plural form of the usual vuh . It is here used idiomatically to mean something like 'such'.