kyaa balaa-;xez jaa hai kuuchah-e ((ishq
tum bhii yaa;N miir mol ik ghar lo

1a) what a disaster-producing place it is, the street of passion!
1b) as if it's a disaster-producing place, the street of passion!
1c) is it a disaster-producing place, the street of passion?

2) even/also you, here, Mir, [should] buy a single/particular/unique/excellent house



ek : 'One, single, sole, alone, only, a, an; the same, identical; only one; a certain one; single of its kind, unique, singular, preëminent, excellent'. (Platts p.113)

S. R. Faruqi:

This verse is beyond the need of either analysis or praise. In the swiftness/lightness of expression, the faux-naïf attitude, the darvesh-like style, the gallantry-- and on top of all this, the intensity of the theme. The most important point is that such a major idea he has brought to the level of homey, worldly affairs.

Nevertheless, there's no trace of foolishness-- that the attraction of the street of passion is in the fact that here every day there's tumult and turmoil. But this is a thing of your and my world, because here people can buy a house and settle down. In this there's also the point that to be absorbed in passion is a matter of choice; it only requires courage/enthusiasm. Just as to buy a house is a matter of choice; it only requires the ability.

In both lines, the insha'iyah style of expression is superb, and in the second line the ambiguity of the speaker too is worthy of note. In one reading 'Mir' addresses himself, and in another reading some other person, who has experience of the street of passion, is saying to him, 'Come on, you too live here and see!'. That is, the speaker, or other people, having already settled there, why doesn't Mir too now try his luck?

In buying 'one house' [ek ghar], there's also the implication, 'You already have one house somewhere else, buy one house here too'. The appropriateness of everyday speech; in the tone fear, ardor, greed, admiration, gallantry-- now it has all been so well mixed together that outwardly the verse is nothing, but the whole story of life and the world is present in it. Man's strength, his oppressedness-- both have been expressed at the same time. It's a powerful 'tumult-arousing' verse.

It's also worth reflecting that if he buys a house in the street of passion, then how will he pay for it? It's obvious-- by giving his life. Thus in the verse there's really an initiation into death, not into a way of life.



Not only are both lines insha'iyah, as SRF notes, but the verse is also a textbook case of the glorious use of the 'kya effect'. Just consider the three possible readings of the first line: 'What a disastrous place it is!' (1a); 'As if it's a disastrous place!' (of course it's not!) (1b); and 'Is it a disastrous place?' (1c). Needless to say, each of the three possible readings works brilliantly, and complexly, with the second line.

Then, the second line offers a piquant range of possibilities for that ik (see the definition above). Perhaps it's not 'another' house that the speaker is urging Mir to buy (one house here, one house there), but some 'particular' or 'unique' or 'excellent' house. If so, does it follow that all the houses available in this street are extraordinary? Or should Mir take pains to procure one with special qualities?

What's clear from the yaa;N is that the action is taking place in the street of passion itself. 'Mir' is strolling around, admiring it because it is-- or isn't, at first appearance-- so disaster-producing, or else he is wondering about its disastrousness. He's apparently a newcomer, but he likes what he sees. The bhii makes it clear that other people (other friends? other lovers? other wretched ones?) already live here. Either an enthusiastic friend is urging him to join the crew, or else he's considering the idea favorably in his own mind.

This verse can't help but evoke Ghalib's irresistible take on a similar situation:


Note for translation fans: It's a purely English ambiguity, that 'you buy' can be either an imperative or an indicative. But the Urdu offers a similar ambiguity of its own: tum mol lo can be either an imperative or a future subjunctive. Moral: a careful translator needs to be alert to recognize such possible confusions and find ways to forestall them.