va.sl me;N rang u;R gayaa meraa
kyaa judaa))ii ko mu;Nh dikhaa))uu;Ngaa

1) in union, my color {fled / 'flew away'}

2a) how will I show my face to Separation?
2b) how I will show my face to Separation!
2c) as if I will show my face to Separation!
2d) shall I show my face to Separation?



S. R. Faruqi:

The definition of 'unattainably simple' is for the verse when looked at to seem extremely easy, but when one sits down to compose, then a verse of this kind would not emerge. Whether this definition be correct or not, in any case this term cannot be used for verses that that when looked would seem easy, but the beauty of which would be difficult-- or rather, impossible-- to elucidate. Mir has particularly many of such verses, and the present verse too is of this kind. To put off [consideration of] such verses by calling them 'unattainably simple' is to do violence to our poetics and our poetic principles.

It can be said that in this verse are simplicity, easiness, clarity-- everything. But all these things will be found in dozens of the verses of Dagh and Jalal and Amir Mina'i as well. Among the conditions of the 'unattainably simple' the excellence of the theme is not included, whereas in the present verse and in other verses like it the excellence of the theme is manifest. Thus those verses in which along with 'theme-creation' there would be a deceptive kind of 'simplicity', we cannot call 'unattainably simple'.

In Mir's present verse the 'ambiguity' too is so subtle and meaningful that it seems to be more of a miracle than a verse. The excellence of the theme is in the second line, for in the poet's view Separation has the status of some friend or dear one who is honored and perhaps even beloved. In separation, the color of the face remains faded/pale, and we used to complain about this-- that because of you, we're in this state. But now even in union our color has fled, and in our heart we're becoming ashamed-- that when Separation comes, how will we confront her? It's obvious that Separation will taunt us: 'You used to scold and reproach us, because we had caused your color to fade-- now tell us, how has union treated you?'

There's also the subtle implication present, that union is no perpetual state, it will have to pass away, and then-- there will be us, and there will be the companionship of Separation. The implication of the belovedness of Separation lies in the idea that Separation is enduring/lasting, and union is accidental/casual.

Now consider the ambiguity of the first line. There can be a number of reasons for the color's taking flight during union. For example, that union indeed took place, but that the beloved didn't open her heart in affection. Or, her enthusiasm wasn't as it had formerly been. Or, we ourself weren't as fervent and restlessly eager as we had formerly been. That is, between the hearts that attachment no longer remained. As it is in a verse from the fourth divan:


Or it's possible that even in union the fear of separation (that is, the fear of the passing away of the time of union) would have so prevailed that even while everything was available, a state of deprivation and melancholy might have remained. Or he might perhaps have kept sacrificing himself, like a Moth, for the beloved's face, and the intensity of the candle of beauty might have kept burning up his blood.

Sauda has used these two possibilities well:

tanhaa nah roz-e hijr hai saudaa pah yih sitam
parvaanah saa;N vi.saal kii har shab jalaa kare

[not only in the day of separation is this tyranny upon Sauda
like the Moth, he would burn in every night of union]

But in Sauda's verse there's an excess of words, and there are only two possibilities. While in Mir's verse even now there are some possibilities remaining.

For example, it's possible that the pleasure of union might have ravished him with such intensity and abundance, he might have stayed awake night after night and made fine love with the beloved, and as a result of this fatigue and pallor might have spread over his face. To me this remaining possibility is the most interesting and seems to be closest to Mir's temperament. Another possibility is that compared to the beloved's fresh rosy blooming face and body, his own color might seem to him to have fled.

A final point is that in terms of wordplay with the color of the face flying away, the idiom and metaphor of 'to show the face to' is extremely beautiful.



The insha'iyah second line takes maximum advantage of the multivalent possibilities of kyaa . Here are some possible readings of the alternative translations:

2a) 'I feel ashamed before Separation, because I have already lost my color to her 'Rival', the beloved, and thus can't offer it up as a tribute for Separation herself to take away.'

2b) 'How eagerly I will show my face to Separation, because I'm already so wretched that half her work has been done for her, (as if) in welcoming anticipation of her arrival.'

2c) 'Since union itself made me so pale and wretched, how could I ever bear to encounter Separation? I'd better just die right now and get it over with!'

2d) 'What do to next-- I'd better think seriously about it, since it's not clear what would be the best course of action.'

And of course, there's a whole slew of other variously intersecting possibilities, many of them spelled out by SRF, including the idea that the lover's pallor results not from misery but from sheer physical exhaustion after wild nights of lovemaking. In any case, the juxtaposition of the lover's pallid face and the question of his 'showing his face' to Separation is a delight, and the real source of energy in the verse.

Since judaa))ii is feminine, it comes very naturally to treat Separation as a female figure, and thus potentially a rival to the beloved (since in any case the lover can't experience the company of both of them at the same time). Or Separation could be a handmaiden of the beloved, a kind of warden who governs the lover's behavior when the beloved is not around.

The verse is so short, and the ambiguities so radical, that it's what I call a 'generator', a true multiple-meaning machine.

Note for translation fans: It's such a lucky break that in English too, as in the Urdu mu;Nh dikhaanaa , the question 'How can I show my face to X?' is an idiomatic way of saying that I am ashamed or embarrassed before X, and X will have the right to reproach me.