paa-e nigaar aaluudah kahii;N [kyaa] saa;Njh ko miir ne dekhe the
.sub;h tak ab bhii aa;Nkho;N me;N us kii paa))o;N tere phirte hai;N

1) painted/decorated feet, somehow, at twilight, Mir saw
2) until dawn, even/also now, in his eyes your feet wander/roam



nigaar : 'A picture, painting, portrait, effigy; an idol; --a beautiful woman'. (Platts p.1150)


aaluudah : 'Smeared, immersed, covered; loaded (with), overwhelmed'. (Platts p.78)


nigaar-aaluud : 'Made beautiful as a painting; painted'. (Platts p.1150)

S. R. Faruqi:

This verse is so interesting that despite its having a small defect, I was compelled to include it in the intikhab. The defect is that in the first line it's not revealed that the addressee is the beloved. On the contrary: the line's grammatical form is such that it seems that two persons are conversing together, or one person is talking to himself. In the second line there's a direct address to the beloved; thus between the two lines there's a deficiency of 'connection'. A commentary is certainly possible (as will be seen below) in the light of which the deficiency of connection is repaired.

In any case, now let's look at the supremacy of the theme, and entrance ourselves with it. The previous evening, Mir had somehow seen the beloved's hennaed feet (only her feet, not her shins or even her ankles). He hasn't made it clear where or how the event took place. It's possible that somewhere, as she was getting down from her palanquin, he might have caught a glimpse of her feet. It's possible that the girl might have been seated in the palanquin in such a way that when the curtain slipped back a bit her feet might have been visible.

Probably many of us remember the time when a doli [;dolii] or a palanquin would halt at the door, and from the doli to the door a curtain would be held up, so that the ladies would absolutely not be seen unveiled. But since the curtain didn't go all the way down to touch the ground, sometimes the feet of those getting out, or getting in, would inevitably be visible.

On some such occasion Mir has seen the painted feet of the beloved; then through the whole night that same scene has remained before his eyes. Or again, because of his staying awake all night, the redness in his eyes has been construed as painted feet. There's also the hint of a possibility that he might have seen the red glow of sunset, and in his absorption considered it to be the beloved's painted feet, and that that same redness has become bloody tears in his eyes. He's claimed that it was the redness of the beloved's painted feet. From the second divan:


Then, there's the connection of a zila between saa;Njh in the sense of 'redness', and 'painted feet'. Between 'feet' and phirne , too, there's the pleasure of a zila.

Nowadays a number of 'Ustads' say that to scan paa))o;N as long-long is incorrect. Although the fact of the matter is that in a number of places (as in this line of Mir's), this very thing is pleasing.

Another possibility is that the feet that he saw in the evening were those of someone else. When he saw them, he remembered the beloved's feet. This possibility becomes strong because in reality nigaar is used not for henna, but for the shapes and patterns and flowers and leaves that are made out of henna. Different beautiful women also used to have different designs/styles. Thus the possibility here is that some other girl too has on her feet just such designs and patterns as Mir's beloved makes on her own feet. When he sees such feet, it's natural for his own beloved to come to mind. In the light of this interpretation, too, the defect that I have mentioned above ceases to exist.

Naiyar Mas'ud says that in majaalis-e rangiin there's mention of a mushairah in which ghazals based on the 'pattern' of the present ghazal were recited. Thus it's possible that Mir too might have composed the present ghazal for that mushairah, or (which is more probable) that some 'pattern line' might have been selected from the present ghazal itself.

An interest in feet, and an infatuation with the beauty of feet, recalls Freud's concept of 'foot fetishism'. I haven't seen this theme anywhere else. Although indeed Ghalib, going a bit beyond the feet to a theme of the ankles, has composed a very suggestive verse [in Persian]:

'Even in my thought her shalwar-hem [paa))ichah] is not lifted up,
Although in the ardor of desire my heart is turning to blood.'

In the first line of the present verse, instead of 30 matras [maatraa))e;N] there are 28. It's possible that Mir might have written it just like this. In all the manuscripts this line appears in this form, the way I've given it. Kalb-e Ali Khan Fa'iq says that kahii;N ought to be read as kaahii;N . (In such a case, aaluudah will be scanned as long-long-long). There's no harm in reading aaluudah with this scansion, but the pronunciation of kahii;N as kaahii;N is obviously entirely groundless. Certainly nahii;N is turned into naahii;N (for example, in Avadhi), but the presence of kaahii;N in place of kahii;N is, to my mind, unacceptable.

Indeed, it's possible that the original line might have been paa-e nigaar aaluudah kahii;N kyaa saa;Njh ko miir ne dekhe the . In this way 30 matras become filled out. The insha'iyah style, too, is a special style of Mir's. Thus it's possible that my conjectural reading might be correct.

[See also {1725,6}.]



If we adopt the quite plausible interpretation that Mir saw some other feet rather than the beloved's, how does this repair the awkwardness of 'connection' between the two lines? Presumably because we can then imagine that on the following morning some third party, some friendly observer or go-between, is reporting the episode to the beloved: 'poor Mir had a very bad night, let me tell you how it came about'.

And of course the result of a sleepless night is bloodshot eyes, which might be considered to be the result of the beloved's hennaed feet tramping around inside them. On henna, see G{18,4}. The redness of the sunset suggested in the first line is echoed by the redness of the dawn evoked in the second line; the bringing together of reddened feet, red sunset, red sunrise, and red sleepless eyes surely also counts as a form of 'connection'.

Note for meter fans: The metrical defect in the first line of which SRF speaks is really obtrusive and vexing. His suggestion of an omitted kyaa is a tempting fix to the problem. An izafat after nigaar would also do the job, but the idiomatic meaning conveyed by nigaar-aaluudah would then be lost, and no satisfactory sense would replace it. It's really very hard to live with a defective line! I simply insert the kyaa on my own responsibility, that seems to be the least annoying option. I feel sure that Mir wouldn't mind.