mar ga))e mar ga))e nahii;N to nahii;N
;xaak se mu;Nh ko ;Dhaa;Nke ham bhii hai;N

1) if we've died, we've died; if not, then not
2) [in a state of] having covered/closed our face/mouth with dust, are even/also we



;Dhaa;Nknaa : 'To cover, to put a cover on; to shut, close; to conceal, hide'. (Platts p.570)

S. R. Faruqi:

On this theme, see:


Here some things are the opposite of {108,6}. In that verse, there was the belief that when we might want, we would die. And here there's a feeling of the bitter reality that even when wanted, death sometimes doesn't come. One has had one's fill of life, but there's also no escape from life. In the first line there's remonstrance, and helplessness too; and along with an intense longing for death there's also a kind of qalandar-like dignity/pride. Death and life are equal. If we've died, then we've died; if we haven't died, then all right, we'll endure a death-like life for some days more.

One interpretation of mu;Nh ko ;xaak se ;Dhaa;Nknaa is that he has put dust on his mouth/face. Another interpretation is that he has put so much dust on his head that his mouth/face has been closed/covered. A third interpretation is that having lain down in the dirt of the grave, he has thrown dust from above. It's not necessary to explain the final image-- how extraordinary it is, how it makes one tremble!

By ham bhii hai;N is meant that in the grave, the mouths/faces of the dead are usually covered with dust-- we too do the same thing.



The ability of mu;Nh to mean either 'face' or 'mouth' creates another elegant ambiguity, since ;Dhaa;Nknaa can mean either 'to cover' in a general way, or specifically 'to close, to shut' (see the definition above). SRF explicates the former, more general meaning. But the latter one has a particular appeal in the case of a poet: once he has closed his mouth with dust, he can no longer speak (or recite poetry), so it hardly matters whether he's considered to be alive or dead.

To add to the piquant effect, the grammar makes it clear that the speaker has covered his own mouth or face; the deed has not been done by others. Did he do so because of disgust with his own speech/poetry, or with its reception by the world? Did he do so because of disgust with the world in general? Did he do so because he felt his poetic power waning, and no longer cared to live? Or did he, as SRF suggests, simply throw so much dust on his head as a sign of grief, that it actually covered his face?

Here again we see the power of an uninterpretable image or gesture.