kaun shikaar-e ram-;xvurdah se jaa ke kahe ;Tuk phir kar dekh
ko))ii savaar hai tere piichhe gard-o-;xaak-o-;Gubaar ke biich

1) who would go to a panicked/fleeing prey-animal and say, 'Just turn and look back,
2) some rider is behind you, amidst the dust and earth and dirt!'?



ram-;xvurdah : 'Scared; taken to flight'. (Platts p.598)

S. R. Faruqi:

In this verse is a strange mysteriousness and drama. What need there is to give such a message to a fleeing prey-- the speaker hasn't made this clear. Perhaps he wants to tell the fleeing prey, 'No matter how much you run and flee, that rider will surely capture you, you have no refuge from him. This dust that's flying up-- it's not the dust of your flight, instead it's made by the steed of that rider who pursues you.'

Or perhaps he wants to tell the fleeing prey, 'You're not being hunted by some ordinary hunter, it's a single/unique rider who wants you. It's a matter of great honor for you, that you are the prey of such a one.' Or perhaps he wants to halt his flight: 'Look, why are you fleeing? Behind you a single rider is coming, who will rescue you from the hunter'.

In ko))ii shikaar-e ram-;xvurdah se jaa ke kahe there's something of a style of 'If only someone would go and tell him!' Or perhaps of regret and grief at this prey's simplicity: 'If only someone would tell him that the danger has come very near, and if he values his life then he should run faster; otherwise, the hunter is upon him!' And the image of the hunter too-- how it makes one tremble! Heart and soul, he is bent on pursuing the fleeing prey. In his pursuit is a death-like determination and a fate-like destiny and concencentration.

In a ghazal from shikaar-naamah-e duvvum too, this theme has been very well expressed:

kahe kaun .said-e ramiidah se kih udhar bhii bhar ke na:zar kare
kih naqaab ul;Te savaar hai tire piichhe ko))ii ;Gubaar me;N

[who would say to the fleeing prey, that 'take a good look that way too!
for behind you there's some rider, with veil lifted, in the dust']

Here, by saying 'with veil lifted' he has, so to speak, hammered the last nail into the coffin of the fleeing prey, for even if she wouldn't shoot an arrow, then when he sees her unveiled face, the prey will be finished off.

Apparently, gard-o-;xaak-o-;Gubaar seems to be repetitive [takraarii]; but in reality, it's not so. For gard-o-;Gubaar is the idiom, but in this context it would be a very weak and conventional phrase, because its everydayness is unable to express the fast movement, the 'hot pursuit', that is the life of the verse. And ;xaak-o-gard-o-;Gubaar would also be unable, because gard-o-;Gubaar would remain intact in it. Justice might have been done to the dramaticness of the theme by placing gard and ;Gubaar separately.

Now, ;xaak is such a word that it not only presents itself as a zila of gard-o-;Gubaar , but also finishes off the conventionality of the phrase. And it also suggests the sense of ;xaak as a 'heap or mound of earth' [mi;T;Tii kaa tuudah]. That is, here and there in the desert are mounds of earth, and hunters lie in wait behind them. He's composed a devastating verse. It's an entirely novel [niraalaa] theme.



This verse is also a kind of ultimate example of the brilliant use of insha'iyah speech. Just consider the possibilities of that powerful, ominous question: 'Who would go and tell the fleeing prey that there's a rider behind him in the dust?' It might be a genuine question, or a (negative) rhetorical question. Why might the speaker raise the question of giving such a warning?

=Because some kind person ought to do so, so that the fleeing creature can be warned and perhaps take evasive action.

=Because no one would be so cruel as to do so, and thus throw the fleeing creature into despair at his imminent doom.

=Because there would be no point in doing so, since the fleeing creature of course knows already that he's being pursued.

=Because some insightful person ought to do so, since this particular Hunter is one from whom no one could, or would, want to flee.

=Because some knowledgeable person ought to do so, since the Rider is not the Hunter (a possibility that SRF has noted) and the prey should realize this important fact.

=Because the speaker is sending out a call, seeking to induce someone to do so, for reasons unspecified.

And the 'dramaticness' of the situation means that each possibility then generates further narrative questions. In particular, if the rider is not the Hunter, who is he? A rescuer, as SRF suggests? Or the Angel of Death? Or some eerie messenger bringing some kind of news from the Unseen?

SRF's point about Mir's breaking up of the idiomatic gard-o-;Gubaar is also an excellent one. I've tried to make a gesture in that direction: in English, 'dust and dirt' has a similar everyday quality (partly of course based on alliteration). Saying 'dust and earth and dirt' breaks up that usual pattern to at least some degree.

For the intention of gard-o-;xaak-o-;Gubaar is surely to make us imagine not just the usual cloud of dust kicked up by a galloping horse in the desert, but an extraordinary cloud of dust. But extraordinary how? Larger than usual? With more ingredients than usual? Darker and denser than usual? As so often, we're left to decide for ourselves. But the effect, in context, is so elegantly ominous!