bharii aa;Nkhe;N kisuu kii po;Nchhte jo aastii;N rakhte
hu))ii sharmindagii kyaa kyaa hame;N is dast-e ;xaalii se

1) we would have wiped someone's filled eyes, if we had/'kept' a sleeve
2) what-all shame/embarrassment happened to us, due to this empty hand!



S. R. Faruqi:

In both lines there's a richness of theme, and an abundance of 'implication'. In the first line the speaker has by implication called himself naked, since his shoulder and arm were devoid of a sleeve. That is, his clothing (because of poverty and lack of resources, or because of wildness and madness) had already been reduced to threads. Calling the eyes 'filled' is an implication of their being wet, and the eyes' being wet is an implication of of sorrow and suffering and grief.

Then, he has called a hand without a sleeve 'empty', although haath ;xaalii honaa usually means 'for wealth to be lacking, for gold to be lacking'. Thus he has created an implication that for people like him, to have a sleeve is in itself great wealth. Then, what use would he have made of this wealth? He would not have used it to obtain some property for himself; rather, he would have wiped the tears from some suffering person's wet eyes. It's obvious that when a longing is felt to wipe away tears with a sleeve, then the implication is certainly present that there is no garment-hem, no collar, and the question of a handkerchief or a face-cloth doesn't even arise.

Beyond all this, there's the theme that he feels no sorrow over his own nakedness and lack of resources; rather, he feels sorrow that because he has no sleeve, he has fallen short of being able to dry someone's tears, and has been forced to endure the shame of being incapable of doing even this. Mirza Rafi Va'iz has well said [in Persian],

'Before the needy ones, shame caused me to sink into the ground,
Lack of gold did to me what gold did to Qarun.'

This verse has its own brilliance; but in Mir's verse calling the lack of a sleeve an 'empty hand', and Mir's 'implications', are elements on the basis of which Mir's verse outranks Va'iz's verse. Then, in both Mir's lines there is in addition the insha'iyah, 'dramatic' structure.

Janab Sardar Ja'fri has expressed about this verse the view that it is a verse of 'mood'-- one 'in which the pleasure of union is drowned in the immeasurable ocean of grief and sorrow, and the lover's poverty and oppression are complained against'. This idea is not correct-- how can it be called a verse about 'union'? If we suppose that 'someone's filled eyes' refers to the beloved's misty eyes (this is not at all plausible), even then what place is there for 'the lover's poverty and oppression'? In fact, if any text whatsoever is read in the light of previously-decided assumptions, then incorrect conclusions will necessarily be drawn.

[See also {1896,9}.]



What I keep thinking about is the kisuu kii . Would the speaker have wiped the eyes of some particular person, whom he (coyly or discreetly) does not choose to identify? Or might he really have sought to wipe the eyes of a random 'somebody' or 'anybody'-- of any suffering person? If so, this verse would join an extremely small handful in which Ghalib and Mir show some traces of what might be called a social conscience. For more on this issue, see