naazukii haa))e re :taali(( kii niko))ii se kabhuu
phuul saa haatho;N me;N ham us ko u;Thaa lete hai;N

1) delicacy, ah alas! -- [if] through the goodness of destiny/stars, sometime/sometimes/ever
2) like a flower, we take her up in our hands



haa))e : 'Ah! alas! oh! —s.f. A sigh:— ... haa))e re , intj.= haa((e '. (Platts p.1217)


:taali(( : 'Star, destiny, fate, lot, fortune; prosperity'. (Platts p.750)


niko))ii : 'Goodness, beauty, virtue; —health'. (Platts p.1149)


kabhii : 'Sometime or other, sometimes; at any time, ever'. (Platts p.810)

S. R. Faruqi:

Jacques Derrida famously holds the view that if we read a text attentively, then the reverse of the meaning can be seen. That is, the meaning that apparently holds a central place in the text comes to seem far from central, and the meaning that seems to be far from central takes up a central position. This view of Derrida's is about all forms of expression, because he doesn't especially differentiate between literary and non-literary texts. Derrida's view also doesn't prove true for all texts. And this is no critical view, because its relationship is with the philosophy of language. But there's no doubt that there are some texts for which his reversal-of-meaning view proves true.

Thus in the present verse, apparently the theme is the beloved's delicacy, and the second line, which establishes proof of the delicacy, is peripheral, on the margins-- because as a rule the claim is central, and the proof is its periphery. But to lift up the beloved like a flower in one's hands is such an erotic image that the beloved's delicacy becomes only secondary and peripheral, and a vision of sexual activities with the beloved at once has its effect.

Now let's look at some other aspects of the meaning. The verse begins with an expression of the beloved's delicacy. But after the first three words ( naazukii haa))e re ), the whole line consists of the favor of fortune and the rareness of the occurrence of that favor ( :taali(( kii niko))ii se kabhuu ). Then, the 'goodness' of fortune is in proportion to the beloved's 'delicacy'. The original meaning of :taali(( is 'star'; the beloved herself is a star (that is, for the lover she's the star of auspiciousness); and like a star, she's also beautiful. But like a star she's also far off, and doesn't easily come to hand. Now look: even if she would come to hand, that gives only the occasion for the lover to take her on his lap.

In this context, see


where the flower is a metaphor for the beloved, and the theme is lifting her onto the lover's lap. In the present verse the word 'delicacy' bears a special importance, because when the theme is that 'we lift up the beloved like a flower', then the beloved's quality will be not delicacy but refinement, that she is light like a flower.

Then, why did he say 'delicacy'? The reason for this is in fact that when he lifted the beloved into his embrace, then he felt the softness and delicacy of her body, and this feeling was so deep and rooted that the most important thing that he remembered about taking her onto his lap was not the beloved's refinement, but rather her delicacy-- how soft and delicate her body was, so that finger-marks might be left on it.



It's a madly insha'iyah verse, with a confusing grammatical imbalance. First the speaker exclaims-- ambiguously, ruefully, perhaps also admiringly-- at the idea or fact of 'delicacy' itself. Then, as SRF notes, he seems to abandon that abstract noun entirely. For the rest of the first line, he hypothesizes vaguely about the favor of fortune. The verse relies markedly on enjambment, leaving us to wait-- under mushairah performance conditions-- for the completion that will come only with the second line.

If we put the whole verse in prose order, it becomes '[If] at some time, through the favor of fortune, we take her up in our hands like a flower-- [then] ah alas, her delicacy!' It's really not fair, in normal grammatical terms, to make the audience supply both the 'if' and the 'then'. But if we don't do so, the grammar becomes even clunkier, and yields two separate sentences: 'Ah alas, her delicacy! Sometimes, through the favor of fortune, we take her up in our hands like a flower.' We then have to stitch these together into a coherent meaning. (Why the 'alas'?) That figuring-out process may take up enough mental energy so that the subtly erotic effect of the second line is reduced.

We shouldn't deprive this verse of its fraternal twin, Ghalib's show of even greater (or at least more explicit) vexation at the beloved's untouchable delicacy: