kab va((de kii raat vuh aa))ii jo aapas me;N nah la;Raa))ii hu))ii
aa;xir us aubaash ne maaraa rahtii nahii;N hai aa))ii hu))ii

1) when did she come, on the night of the vow/promise, that between us a quarrel/fight did not occur?
2) finally that rogue murdered me-- death/fate, having occurred, does not halt/delay/remain



aubaash : 'A bad character, dissolute fellow, profligate, debauchee, rake, libertine'. (Platts p.101)


aa))ii : 'End (of life); appointed hour or time, death, fate, doom'. (Platts p.111)

S. R. Faruqi:

The beloved's being quarrelsome and murderous is a common theme. The height of the abstract theme of quarrelsomeness is in Ghalib's verse:


In the first line, mar jaane is an additional pleasure. One limit case of the beloved as a universal murderer is in a verse by Momin:

kiyaa tum ne qatl-e jahaa;N ik na:zar me;N
kisii ne nah dekhaa tamaashaa kisii kaa

[you did universal murder in a single glance
no one saw the spectacle of anyone else]

And another limit case is in this Persian verse, which is widely believed to have been recited by Umdat ul-Mulk Amir Khan Anjam before Nadir Shah during the general massacre in Delhi:

'No one has remained for you to slay with the sword of coquetry,
Unless you make people live again, and slay them again.'

In the present opening-verse Mir has moved away from the above verses and adopted the style of 'affair-evocation'. Then in addition to this, that special style of Mir's is operative, in which lover and beloved seem individually to be characters in some story based on the everyday world. In the 'mood' and the affairs of passion there remains that hyperbole that is the specialty of our classical poetry, but Mir inserts one or another detail such that the affair comes closed to everyday life.

Thus here too the beloved's quarrelsomeness is not some theoretical or 'idealized' thing, but rather is the expression of her ill-temper and meanness/baseness. Then a conventional hyperbole begins to prevail, and we see that the beloved's nightly quarrelsomeness results in the lover's death. The first line is about an irritable, ill-tempered, fight-picking person. When we hear or read it, we expect that the next line will speak of the relationship being broken off, or becoming spoiled.

But when the second line comes before us, then we learn that that apparently harmless quarrelsome person has committed murder. This contradictory and unexpected outcome causes us to feel an emotional 'shock'. For a moment we are even obliged to think that the speaker is perhaps only inventing things. Or perhaps he is not serious, but is making fun of us. These contradictions, and the various moods/styles in the tone of the verse, create a delicate ironic tension.

In the second line, the wordplay of aa))ii meaning 'death' is of course interesting, but the essence of the beloved's character is in the word aubaash , which is not only full of meaning but which Mir has used again and again for the beloved, or people like the beloved. From the first divan [{597,16}]:

galyo;N me;N bahut ham to pareshaa;N se phire hai;N
aubaash kisii roz lagaa de;Nge ;Thikaane

[in the alleys, we wander very anxiously
someday, the rogues will make off with us]

From the second divan [{961,6}]:

bhii;Re;N ;Talii;N us abruu-e ;xam-daar ke hilte
laakho;N me;N us aubaash ne talvaar chalaa))ii

[multitudes quailed, at a movement of that bent eyebrow
that rogue has wielded her sword among hundreds of thousands]

From the fourth divan:


From the first divan [{270,3}]:

aubaasho;N hii ke ghar tujhe paane lage hai;N roz
maaraa pa;Regaa ko))ii :talab-gaar aaj kal

[we have begun to find you daily at the house of only/emphatically rogues
some seeker/suitor will lie dead, nowadays]

The meaning of aubaash is 'keeping company with low people', 'of bad character', 'vagabond-like'. [A detailed discussion of the etymology and meanings of aubaash in Persian and Urdu, as given by various dictionaries.]

The theme is rather convoluted, but Mir has versified it with such clarity that one doesn't even realize what a difficult task this was. For example, look at this theme in a verse of Shah Nasir's, and how weak it seems:

va.sl kii raat ham-nishii;N kyuu;N kih ka;Tii nah puuchh kuchh
bar sar-e .sul;h me;N rahaa tis pah bhii vuh la;Raa kiyaa

[how the night of union was spent, together-- don't ask at all!
I remained devoted to peace-- even with that, she always quarreled]

[See also {1723,6}.]



The first line makes it sound as if there were repeated meetings, since the grammatical structure has that rhetorical effect: 'When did X happen, that Y did not happen too? (Why, never, of course!)' seems to invoke a series of examples on which a general rule can be based. And these meetings seem to take place on 'the night of the vow/promise', so apparently the beloved makes, and then even keeps, a number of promises about meeting the lover. So the two do spend a fair amount of time alone together, even if they spend it quarreling; this is of course unusual in the ghazal world, and gives the verse its real-worldly 'affair-evocation' quality.

So then-- in the second line, in what sense does the beloved finally 'kill' the lover? We know so many verses in which she kills him with coquetry, with disdain, with heedlessness, with cruel tyranny, or just with her deadly beauty. But in the first line she has become so normalized, so relatively real-worldly, that her repeated bouts of constant quarreling just don't sound like a 'final' and fatal blow. Does she then actually wield a dagger or a sword? That possibility too, even from a 'rogue', is a surprise and, as SRF notes, a sort of shock (he uses the English word) to our expectations.

In order to leave that shock intact and unexplained, the rest of the second line veers off entirely into wordplay. The kab vuh aa))ii in the first line suddenly feels different when we see that in the second line aa))ii means 'death' (because it is what has 'come' upon one). Yet we can't simply imagine that it wasn't she who came, it was really death who came-- because death would never spend long periods quarreling and bickering with the lover. So we're left with two halves of a love story that, intriguingly, don't match up. As so often, Mir has left us with something unresolvable that will keep on oscillating back and forth in our minds.