ham jo us bin ;xvaar hai;N ;had se ziyaad
yaar yaa;N tak aan kar kyaa kam hu))aa

1) {in that we / since we / we who} without her, are wretched/vile beyond all limits
2) the beloved, having shown grace/coquetry {to this extent / 'up to here'}-- how diminished/lessened did/would she become?!



;xvaar : 'Poor, distressed; deserted, abandoned, friendless, wretched, ruined; abject, vile, base, contemptible'. (Platts p.494)


aan : 'Course, way, manner, mode...; natural disposition or temperament; habit, peculiarity; way or manner of a belle or a coquette, gracefulness, grace, elegance, charm, blandishment (= adaa ); affectation; bashfulness, modesty; conceit, pride; will, pleasure, wish; rank, dignity, respectability, reputation, character; proper spirit, self-respect; established rule or custom; vow, oath; promise; interdicted thing; objection, scruple; hindrance, prohibition'. (Platts p.84)

S. R. Faruqi:

Between ;xvaar and kam there's a very interesting 'meaning-play' [ri((aayat-e ma((navii]; this expresses Mir's special temperament. The meaning of ;xvaar is both 'petty' and kam ; and the meaning of kam too is both ;xvaar and 'petty'. Some have said that the meaning of 'to be kam ' is 'to be unsuccessful', 'for lack of success to be proved'. This aspect of the interestingness is additional.

Now let's consider the meaning of the verse. Apparently what has been said is that without the beloved we are ;xvaar beyond all limits, but the beloved had come to our house one time, and then what sort of wretchedness did not befall her! Obviously it seems to be an error that the beloved would take the trouble of coming, and even more of an error that because she took the trouble of coming, she would be petty and wretched. The solution to this perplexity is that the beloved didn't come or go anywhere; she only 'came' to the extent that she didn't come to our house. That is, she deliberately avoided coming to our house. The result of this was that we (in our own eyes, in the world's eyes, in the beloved's eyes) are petty or vile.

But the beloved's not coming to our house-- that is, her 'arriving' to the extent that would deliberately and intentionally make us vile-- this too for her is a comedown. To establish the existence of the likes of us is beneath her dignity. If she established our existence, then, so to speak, she lowered herself. Is this a small kindness on her part, that for our sake she endured the fact of lowering herself? In the tone and the theme both, the ambiguity is fine; thus this is at once a romantic and mystical verse, and a sarcastic/ironic one as well.

Now please consider some other aspects. The beloved really came once to our house and went away. Without her we are low and wretched beyond all limits-- that is, we are in a bad state. But when the beloved came to our house, then she too was disgraced; thus we have no power to complain. On this interpretation, jo remains only a condition; that is, it is used in the sense of 'if'. If jo would be taken in the sense of 'since', then the interpretation becomes that since without the beloved we are ;xvaar beyond all limits, when the beloved comes to our house, then will we be less ;xvaar ? For this reason, her not coming is better.

Another aspect is that we are the one who without her is ;xvaar beyond all limits, if the beloved had come here then she would not have been diminished-- that is, no suspicion would have attached to her glory. We are the one who is ;xvaar beyond all limits-- as if the beloved would now have been vouchsafed any ;xvaarii !

Another point is that our ;xvaarii is connected with separation from her, and her lowness is connected with meeting with us. In the affairs of passion, the lowness of one or the other partner certainly occurs.



It's easy to see why this verse appealed to SRF; plenty of wordplay ( ;xvaar , ziyaad , kam ) along with that piquant threefold use of kyaa (did X become lessened?; how lessened X became!; as if X became lessened!). But then he has to scrounge around in all directions to actually make sense of the second line. Who or what is the X in kyaa kam hu))aa , and how are we to interpret it? No matter what choice we make, some awkwardness remains. Since the speaker is plural, the singular verb can't apply to him. Can it apply to 'our wretchedness'? Only with some special fiddling, since ;xvaar is an adjective, and ;xvaarii is feminine. If we choose the beloved, then we're obliged to confront the disconcerting prospect of her perhaps having become 'lessened' or 'diminished'.

Here's another suggestion, which is based on a verse of Ghalib's:


Ghalib's first line looks grammatically like a perfect ('When you asked about me, then nothing so awful happened'), but the commentators take it as a wonderfully sarcastic colloquial subjunctive ('If you would ask about me, then nothing so awful would happen'). In the case of the present verse, if we read the second line as a very colloquial kind of subjunctive, how well that works! It creates an equally enjoyable sarcasm: 'If she would show herself here, how would she be diminished?!'. That is, 'Since we're so wretched without her, what harm would it do her to come and see us sometime?' Or, of course 'Since we're so vile and low without her, how far beneath her dignity it would be to come near wretches like us!' Or, of course, the yes-or-no question form: 'Would it be...?'.