ab tang huu;N bahut mai;N mat aur dushmanii kar
laago ho mere jii kaa itnii hii dostii kar

1) now I am very distressed/distracted; don't show more enmity!
2) be a predator/seizer of my life-- show only/emphatically this much friendship



tang : 'Contracted, straitened, confined, strait, narrow, tight; wanting, scarce, scanty, stinted, barren; distressed, poor, badly off; distracted, troubled, vexed; dejected, sad, sick (at heart)'. (Platts p.340)


laag : 'Harmonious relation; affinity; ... —attachment, affection, love; ... —hitting, striking; fixing; —an attack of ill-fortune, a calamitous occurrence, a blow, stroke; enmity, animosity, hostility, rancour, spite, grudge'. (Platts p.946)

S. R. Faruqi:

Becoming a mortal enemy, and finally taking the life-- to declare this to be 'friendship' is a good example of paradox. And he's also proved it with great excellence. In passion for you, it has come upon our life. You show us no affection; that is, you maintain enmity with us. The claim of enmity is that we should endure sorrow, experience trouble, feel disaffected with life-- and not be able to die. Thus we make a claim of friendship on you, not with the intent that you should become favorable toward us-- rather, we want only to escape from the difficulty of life.

So just show us this much friendship: deliver us from the torment of living. In saying 'show us just this much friendship' there's also the subtlety that if you show us more friendship, then perhaps our hopes would rise, your favor would make us long for more kindnesses. But it's possible that tomorrow your favor would no longer remain, and our condition would become even worse than formerly. Therefore just show us this much friendship: that you would take our life.

Carnivorous animals are called laago , and also animals that carry off humans. Such animals are extremely determined; that is, no matter how much guarding and care there may be, they manage to achieve their purpose. In this verse the word creates an effect of great singularity. In the word 'now' is the suggestion that many days have been spent in enduring the beloved's enmity, and now the situation has become unendurable.

On the theme of friendship and enmity, Sa'adi has composed a devastating [Persian] verse:

'Friend, you won't see in the world anyone as delightful as my heart-stealer,
For she shows enmity, and friendship increases.'

In Sa'adi's verse, in the second line there's wit; in Mir's verse too there's wit, but not as much as in Sa'adi's. In Sa'adi's verse there's also a kind of oppressedness; in Mir's, a kind of captivating distractedness and vexation. In the verses of both, sentimentality and self-pity are absent. It's possible that Mir might have had Sa'adi's verse in view, but Mir didn't imitate Sa'adi; he adopted the theme in his own particular way.



It seems clear that laago comes from lagnaa or its causative lagaanaa , which have the basic sense of 'to adhere' (or causatively 'to attach'). Such adhesion could be affectionate, or else hostile (that of a relentless foe). Thus the more common laag can mean both 'affection' and 'enmity' (see the definition above). In the dictionaries I have at hand, laago is defined as suggesting friendship, goodwill, love, etc. But it's clear that SRF's definition is the only one that fits the context of the present verse.

SRF says that in this verse the word creates an effect of 'great singularity' [ba;Rii nudrat]. It's hard to judge such idiomatic usages, but it seems clear that laago in the sense of 'man-eater' or 'dangerous beast' or the like is not part of the conventional vocabulary of the ghazal world. So it would have the shock of unexpectedness; as Abu Talib Kalim famously said, 'A fresh word is equal to a theme'.

And this particular 'fresh word' also seems to bring with it a penumbra of associations with friendship and love, just as much as with enmity. Thus there's a kind of implicit wordplay with both 'enmity' and 'friendship': the verse presents the two concepts separately, and also in laago suggests their underlying common ground. Here's a neat Ghalibian example of the same kind of word- and meaning-play: