;xaak-o-;xuu;N me;N lo;T kar rah jaane hii kaa lu:tf hai
jaan ko kyaa jo salaamat niim-jaa;N mai;N le gayaa

1) the pleasure/enjoyment is only/emphatically in writhing and remaining in dust and blood

2a) hardly a life! -- in that I bore away in safety a half-life
2b) it was hardly a life that in safety I, half-alive, bore away



salaamat : 'Safety, salvation; tranquillity, peace, rest, repose; immunity; liberty; soundness; recovery; health'. (Platts p.668)


niim-jaa;N : 'Half-dead (with fright, &c.)'. (Platts p.1169)


le jaanaa : 'To go away with, to take away; to carry, convey (to);... to carry off or away, bear off; to run away with; to win; to conquer, master'. (Platts p.973)

S. R. Faruqi:

To take his life away half-alive is very fine. There's also the suggestion that he cannot say that a half-life (that is, a half-dead condition) is safe/well; thus even if he would manage to come out and escape, this won't be called salaamat . If the beloved's attack would be pressed harder, then it would be better to writhe in the death-throes and give up one's life.

In niim-jaa;N mai;N le gayaa there's also the additional aspect that I was half-alive; that is, that 'half-alive' is an attribute of the speaker's. Between rah jaane and le gayaa there's the connection of a zila.



In a classic 'mushairah verse' way, the first line is hard to interpret-- why should the particular, or even only, 'pleasure' lie in writhing around in dust and blood, and in staying that way without any change in condition? Under mushairah performance conditions, we're of course made to wait in suspense for as long as conveniently possible, before we're allowed to hear the second line.

And even then-- what a second line! That little introductory exclamation jaan ko kyaa opens itself to so many readings. We might take it as an independent clause, with 'in that' or 'since' [jo] then introducing a separate clause (I brought back a half-life):

=as if it's a life! (it's not a life at all)
=is it a life? (the speaker is not sure)
=what a life it is! (an exclamation of admiration-- it's gloriously enjoyable)
=what a life it is! (an exclamation of rejection-- it's inexpressibly miserable)

But of course, the jo could also be taken as a relative pronoun, with an implicit correlative vuh referring to the 'life':

=is it a 'life' that I brought back as a half-life? (2a)
=is it a 'life' that I, being half-alive, brought back? (2b)

The other readings presented above could similarly be inserted into this jo - vuh framework. I've translated niim-jaa;N as a 'half-life' (or, if it refers from its 'midpoint' position to the speaker, as 'half-alive') in order to capture the affinity with 'life', but it's thought of more as 'half-dead' (see the definition above), which makes it resonate elegantly in ironic opposition to salaamat . In true mushairah-verse style, the kicker, the punch-word, niim-jaa;N , is withheld till the last possible moment.

So looking back at the first line, it would seem to be heavily sarcastic ('sure, I love lying here helplessly in the dirt, half-dead and in agony!'). But of course, in the archetypal 'pleasure = pain' equation of the ghazal world, that kind of thing is just what the mad lover really does love. So he may be expressing a perfectly straightforward vision of real bliss ('well, it wouldn't suit everybody, but it's just what I love'). The radical undecideability of tone is a source of serious delight.

Compare Ghalib's similar use of (enticingly possible but not at all provable) heavy-duty sarcasm: