par chup hii lag ga))ii jab un ne kahaa kih ko))ii
puuchho to shaah-jii se un kaa savaal kyaa hai

1) but when silence fell, she said, 'Someone
2) ask the Shah-ji what his question/petition is.'



savaal : 'Asking, questioning; solicitation (of alms), begging; question, query, interrogation, interrogatory; demand, request, application, petition; a problem'. (Platts p.692)

S. R. Faruqi:

[This is the second and final verse of a two-verse verse-set. For general discussion of the verse-set, see {1031,8}.]

Now let's consider the beloved's reaction [to the situation described in {1031,8}]: that she first remained silent-- that is, kept ignoring him. But when the lover's insistence greatly increased (that is, became impossible to endure), then in response she said an extraordinarily meaningful sentence: 'Ask the Shah Sahib what he is asking for'. For this sentence there are at least five meanings:

(1) She has said 'Shah-ji' sarcastically-- that he is presenting himself as a faqir and a poor man, but he has so much greed, or lust, or courage that he is asking for something expensive like a kiss.

(2) 'Shah-ji' is sarcastic, but in the sense that he is presenting himself as a Sufi and a world-renouncer and a desire-free lover of God, but he is asking for-- a kiss. That is, despite his claim of faqir-ship, he has not renounced worldly pleasures.

(3) The Shah-ji should bury his head in his collar [in shame] and look at what he is asking for. Now here again there are several meanings. First, is it proper that he should seek a kiss? Second, he should look at his condition, and think about the value of a kiss. Third, he should just think a bit about whether he is even capable of enduring a kiss or not.

(4) The beloved doesn't even pay any attention; having heard the begging lover's continuous tumult, in a faux-naïf way she says, 'please just inquire what this person is asking for'.

(5) The beloved doesn't even hear; that is, in truth she doesn't know what this begging Shah Sahib is asking for.

Calling the beggar 'Shah Sahib' or 'Shah-ji' makes him the speaker; and sometimes lovers too used to leave the world and become faqirs, as in Muhammad Afzal's bika;T kahaanii . Thus the expression 'Shah-ji' is very suitable. In it there both is, and isn't, sarcasm.

On the other hand, the beggar/lover's falling silent too is brimful of meaning: (1) The lover has become ashamed. (2) He has become astonished-- that he has been calling out for so long, but she hasn't even realized that someone is at the door. (3) The lover hasn't at all figured out what reply he should give. (4) The lover feels regret that he has shown so much insistence, and no result has been obtained. (5) If the beloved herself had asked, then perhaps the lover would have replied; but the beloved showed such disdain that she told one of her servants to go and see who it was and what he wanted. At this disdain and humiliation the lover has been left stunned and unmoving.

[See also {1254,7}.]



[This is the second and final verse of a two-verse verse-set. For general discussion of the verse-set, see {1031,8}.]

Coming from {1031,8}, we think of the speaker more as intriguingly and paradoxically 'voiceless' (though of course also constantly crying out) than as 'destitute', the other meaning of be-navaa . But now things change. The speaker ceases (for whatever reason) to cry out, and into the silence comes the beloved's languid response. It's of course, as SRF notes, wickedly indirect-- she doesn't deign to take any action herself, but simply tells some servant to go and find out what the Shah-ji is asking for.

This indication that she's aristocratically wealthy, surrounded by a retinue of servants and courtiers, now makes the speaker's being 'destitute' at least as compelling as his being 'voiceless'. And when she refers to him as 'Shah-ji', we know that either he really is presenting himself at her door as a religious mendicant asking for charity, or else that she thinks (or pretends to think) that he is doing so. As a mendicant, begging, he of course must presumably be 'destitute'.

Thus the verse-set offers a complex, unfolding, doubly activated treatment of be-navaa . Ultimately the speaker is shown to be both 'destitute' and 'voiceless', since despite his loudly crying out and clamoring the beloved seems not to have heard a word that he's said. And the beloved's languid, politely indifferent response is such a deadly put-down! It's far more hopeless, far more devastating than any show of anger or rejection. How can we not to feel a sympathetic shiver of dismay-- and also, as SRF emphasizes, enjoy the sarcastic wit? The wit is certainly shown by the speaker, but very possibly the beloved too has made a decisive, deliberate contribution to it.