muu))ii hii rahtii thii ((izzat mirii mu;habbat me;N
halaak aap ko kartaa nah mai;N to kyaa kartaa

1) it used to remain only/emphatically dead/wretched, my honor/dignity, in love
2) if I hadn't done away with myself, then what would I have done?



muu))aa : 'Dead, lifeless; impotent; dull; base, vile; —s.m. Impotent fellow; wretched creature, wretch'. (Platts p.1084)


((izzat : 'Might, power, grandeur, glory, honour, dignity, respect, esteem, reputation, good name'. (Platts p.761)

S. R. Faruqi:

This is a verse in that special style of Mir's, in which concealed within an apparent expression of helplessness, is a sense of self-regard. If there's no honor, then life and death are the same thing. When in passion I've thrown away even honor, then how would I remain alive? And when I died from within, then there's no recourse except suicide.



What I find most striking is the use of muu))ii , one of the expressions that was most characteristic of 'women's language' [begamaatii zabaan], back in the days when the zanaanah used to be a world set apart. The expression appears in Sayyid Ahmad Dihlavi's 'Dictionary of ladies' [language]' [lu;Gaat ul-nisaa] (Delhi, 1875), not only with the literal meanings of 'dead' or 'dead body', but also as a synonym for colorful terms of abuse like nigo;Raa , kam-ba;xt , kam-na.siib , naa-shaad , naa-muraad , ;xaanah-;xaraab . Sayyid Ahmad Dihlavi elaborates further: 'This word comes to the lips in times of disgust and coquetry [tanaffur-o-naaz]'. He even provides examples of usage: 'The bitch has met her downfall!' [muu))ii kii shaamat aa))ii hai] and 'The wretch torments me every day!' [mu))aa mujhii ko roz sataataa hai] (1917 ed., p. 272). The expression is used by Umra'o Jan in Rusva's novel, and also by many of Nazir Ahmad's female characters, especially older, less educated, and lower-status ones.

Thus the lofty attitude and high moral tone noted by SRF (the speaker prefers suicide to a loss of 'honor') are juxtaposed through that little muu))ii to a tone precisely the opposite: colloquial, flirtatious, lively, pettish, even perhaps a bit vulgar. When the vocabulary of the second line offers an abstract 'masculine' tone, including an ad hominem appeal to the-- presumably masculine-- listener, this tone is energized most enjoyably by the contrast with the down-to-earth, colorful 'feminine' particularity of the first line.

There's also excellent wordplay of complex kinds: not only mu))ii and halaak karnaa , but also a special piece of 'misdirection' in mirii , the metrically shortened form of merii , which in this form is visually indistinguishable from marii , the feminine singular perfect of marnaa .

Note for meter fans: Though muu))ii ought in terms of spelling to be scanned long-flexible, it's actually scanned (and pronounced) short-flexible. For a list of such exceptional cases, see the glossary of A Practical Handbook of Urdu Meter.