us kii galii kii ;xaak sabho;N ke daaman-e dil ko khe;Nche hai;N
ek agar jii le bhii gayaa to aate hai;N mar jaane do

1) the dust of her street has seized the garment-hem of everybody's heart
2) if a single one has even/also escaped with his life, then-- [people] come; let him go drop dead!



S. R. Faruqi:

This theme he has composed well in the fifth divan [{1728,6}]:

kyaa hii daaman-giir thii yaa rab ;xaak-e bismil-gaah-e vafaa
us :zaalim kii te;G tale se ek gayaa to do aa))e

[how garment-hem-grabbing, oh Lord, was the dust of the slaughter-place of faithfulness!
if from under the sword of that tyrant one went, then two came]

The construction bismil-gaah-e vafaa is uncommon; though indeed in the second line :zaalim is not very good. By contrast, in the present verse no word is unnecessary or weak. No doubt bismil-gaah-e vafaa is extremely fine, but it limits the idea. By contrast, in 'her street' there's a universality-- that every part of the beloved's street, every corner, is such that it seizes the heart. In the second line, in 'if a single one has even/also escaped with his life' there's this same kind of universality, that there death comes to people. It's not necessary that the beloved herself should do the murder. It's also possible that people might themselves give up their lives; or when they arrive there, then death might come to them; or because of weakness their life might leave them.

In the first line there's the idea of the seizure of the 'garment-hem of the heart'. From that, the suspicion arises that in the second line there will be mention of the attractiveness and the interestingness of that street. But when instead of attractiveness an account comes of escaping with one's life and dying, then one feels a pleasing surprise.

The refrain too has been well used in this verse. On the basis of these reasons, the present verse is superior to {1728,6}. It's a verse with a great deal of 'mood'. It also has 'dramaticness', and Mir's special 'narrativity' as well.

Momin has composed this theme like this:

rahte hai;N jam((a kuuchah-e jaanaa;N me;N ;xaa.s-o-((aam
aabaad ek ghar hai jahaan-e ;xaraab me;N

[they remain gathered in the street of the beloved, great and small
a single house is inhabited, in the ruined world]

Undoubtedly Momin's second line is very appropriate, but his theme, compared to Mir's, is limited. The picture of the beloved's street that Momin has presented has no emotional intensity; rather, it's a scene of commonplace hustle and bustle. That is, there's no mention of death in the street of the beloved, nor of the mental state of those who come and go in that street. They come in order to die; or they come in order to see the beloved, but death seizes the hem of their garment. A few here and there escape with their lives. But the beloved's street seizes everyone's heart; no one can escape its enchantment. Momin's verse is devoid of these subtleties.

Indeed, Fani has attempted to put Mir's theme into his own words:

yih kuuchah-e qaatil hai aabaad hii rahtaa hai
ik ;xaak-nishii;N u;T;Thaa ik ;xaak-nishii;N aayaa

[this is the murderer's street; it remains only/emphatically inhabited
one dust-sitter arose [and departed/died]; one dust-sitter came]

But in Fani's verse the word 'dust-sitter' is inappropriate. Even the double-meaningness of 'arose' cannot veil the weakness of 'dust-sitter'. This word is appropriate for a seeker or a darvesh, but for a lover it's not so suitable. Then, by saying 'the murderer's street' Fani has revealed his idea, and the beloved's character has become limited. A third point is that the repetition of 'dust-sitter' too is not good, since it has given rise to discrimination among those coming and going in the beloved's street.

By contrast, Mir's verse is well-endowed with the riches of implication and wholeness. Most importantly, in Mir's verse there's an intimacy toward the beloved, there's a distracted/crazed attachment. Both Momin's and Fani's verses are devoid of this 'mood'.

In our time, Irfan Siddiqi has brought together the home and the murderer's street (home = the murderer's street; the murderer's street = home) and given the theme a very fresh appearance; the 'meaning-creation' too is good:

;xaak me;N us kii agar ;xuun bhii shaamil hai to kyaa
yih miraa ghar bhii to hai kuuchah-e qaatil hai to kyaa

[if in its dust blood too is mixed, then so what?
it is also my home-- if it's the murderer's street, then so what?]



If we grant that a heart has a 'garment-hem', then we know it has a long border trailing on or near the ground-- ideally placed to be gripped by the hands of the dust-- for if the heart has a garment-hem, why shouldn't the dust have hands to grip it with?. (And long trailing garment-hems would surely often become 'grasped by dust' in the sense of becoming dusty.) Being at ground level and reaching up to seize a garment-hem is often a sign of extreme humility (the prostrate lover makes this beseeching gesture toward the passing beloved), but here no doubt it's an imperative demand for attention, such as a spoiled child might make. And it's not symbolic but physically compelling, so that the heart is forcibly detained and only rarely can break free.

The captivating and capturing power of that dust is so great that if once in a while someone does break free, the beloved doesn't even deign to have the wretched creature pursued. The prey keep on coming, after all, so if someone manages to escape with his life, well-- to hell with him, let him go, let him drop dead! This offhand, idiomatic imprecation may describe the beloved's attitude, or the disdainful reaction of the speaker himself, who is offended on the beloved's behalf.

In the second line the wordplay of aate hai;N and jaane do is enjoyable, but above all there's the vision of the wretched escapee who has, literally, 'taken away his life' (in the sense of 'gotten away') but who is then casually, colloquially, cursed to 'drop dead'-- or literally, as the speaker says (on his own behalf or the beloved's), let's 'allow him to die'. (The oblique infinitive plus denaa clearly means 'to permit to do'.) Even that rare escapee who has successfully made off with his life is imagined as doomed-- he's gone elsewhere, so the wretch will be left to die on his own, far from the beloved's street.