saadah-;zahnii me;N nuktah-chii;N the tum
ab to hai;N ;harf-aashnaa .saa;hib

1) in simplicity/blankness of mind, you were a nit-picker
2) now you are an {alphabet/crookedness/blame/reproach}-knower, Sahib



saadah : 'Plain, unadorned; white; pure, unmixed, simple; unseasoned; smooth; beardless; without writing or impression, blank (as paper, &c.); ... candid, sincere, artless, guileless, open, frank'. (Platts p.623)


;harf : 'Changing, altering; inverting, turning (as a coat); —extremity, verge, border, margin ... ; —nib (of a writing-reed) obliquely cut; a crooked pen; writing obliquely; —a letter of the alphabet ... —blame, censure, reproach, stigma, animadversion'. (Platts p.476)


;harf-aashnaa : 'Being just able to read, knowing the letters; —one who knows the letters'. (Platts p.476)



This ghazal is not included in SSA; for discussion, see {775,1}.

The shortness of the meter makes for a delightfully wide range of possible juxtapositions of the lines-- with the able assistance of the radically multivalent word ;harf (see the definitions above). In addition, saadah-;zahnii , 'simplicity of mind', can suggest a state of ignorance or uneducatedness (like that of a child), or a temperamental quality (naivete, artlessness)-- or the 'blankness' of a blank piece of paper (see the definition above). Here are some possible ways to put it all together:

='When you were an uneducated child, you were a nit-picker; but now you are literate, so you should learn better habits.'

='Even in childhood, you were a nit-picker; now that you are somewhat literate, I dread to think what you will do!'

='In childhood, you were a nit-picker, now you have widened your hostile repertoire and become acquainted not just with the alphabet, but also with 'turning, crookedness, blame, reproach'.'

='You used to be a nit-picker out of simple, naive instinct; now, you have the tools of literacy and sophistication to use for your nit-picking.'

And what is the speaker's tone? Is he scolding, lamenting, teasing, laughing, neutrally observing? As so often, we're left to choose for ourselves.