raato;N paas gale lag so))e nange ho kar hai yih ((ajab
din ko be-pardah nahii;N milte ham se sharmaate hai;N hanuuz

1) in all the nights, close by, embracing us, she slept, having become naked; the strange thing is this:
2) by day, she doesn't meet us unveiled; she is ashamed/abashed before us now/still



S. R. Faruqi:

For a theme similar to this, see:


An absolutely new aspect can be seen in the following verse from the second divan [{1040,7}]:

thii;N pesh az aashnaa))ii kyaa aashnaa nigaahe;N
ab aashnaa hu))e par aa;Nkh aashnaa nahii;N hai

[before familiarity, what familiar glances there were!
now that she has become familiar, her eyes are not familiar]

Closer to the present verse is the theme he has versified like this in the third divan [{955,5}]:

.su;hbat hai yih vaisii hii ay jaan kii aasaa))ish
saath aan ke sonaa bhii phir mu;Nh ko chhupaanaa bhii

[is 'companionship' of this kind, oh comfort of life,
to come and even sleep with someone, then also to hide one's face?]

In {955,5} he's devised a strange kind of ambiguity. There's complaint, there's also very enjoyable conversation. And because he hasn't made clear why the beloved, despite sleeping with him, hides her face from him-- and because he's avoided making clear the kind of treatment to which .su;hbat hai yih vaisii hii alludes-- an interesting tension has been created in the verse.

But in the present verse, the image is so naked and erotic that it's in a different class entirely. In other places too, Mir has made the beloved's nakedness his subject. For example, in the second divan [{1031,6}]:

vuh siim-tan ho nangaa to lu:tf-e tan par us ke
so jii ga))e the .sadqe ik jaan-o-maal kyaa hai

[if that silver-bodied one would be naked, then for the pleasure of her body
the inner-self would be sacrificed-- what is mere life and wealth?!]

Also in the second divan [{868,1}]:

mar mar ga))e na:zar kar us ke barahnah tan me;N
kap;Re utaare un ne sar khe;Nche ham kafan me;N

[we died, in looking at her naked body
she removed her clothing; we drew our head into the shroud]

But here the beloved's nakedness and bed-sharing have combined and created an extremely emotional narrativity. On the beloved's nakedness, Atish too has composed superb verses:

lagii hai aag jo kambal kabhii u;Rhaayaa hai
tirii barahnah sii garmii do-shaalah kyaa kartaa

[a fire has started, whenever you've covered yourself with a blanket
your naked-ish heat-- how would a double-shawl equal it!]

taa sa;har mai;N ne shab-e va.sl use ((uryaa;N rakkhaa
aasmaa;N ko bhii nah jis mah ne badan dikhlaayaa

[until dawn, in the night of union, I kept her naked--
that moon who had never shown her body even to the sky]

Atish's well-guided pupil Sayyid Muhammad Khan 'Rind' too has taken up almost exactly the theme of the second verse:

((uryaa;N use dekhaa kiyaa mai;N shaam se taa .sub;h
dekhaa nahii;N garduu;N ne bhii jis kaa badan ab tak

[I constantly saw her naked, from evening to dawn
whose body, until now, not even the celestial-sphere had seen]

But Mir's verse has grounds for superiority over all three of these verses. The first point is that in Atish's first verse the image is not clear and almost falls victim to [the fault of having] 'a meaning private to the poet' [al-ma((nii fii baa:tin al-shaa((ir]. In his second verse and in Rind's verse there's no respect for the beloved; rather, a kind of coercion toward her can be seen. The claim of ghazal custom is that either respect should be shown for the beloved, or a game should be played with her. To use coercion toward her or to show contempt for her is not the style of the ghazal.

In Mir's verse, the image in the first line is maximally erotic and clear; and because it's founded on two parts ( gale lag so))e and nange ho kar ), it has acquired unlimited strength. He has made the second line, too, similarly strong, because in it he has described an absolutely new kind of shame. But although it's new, it's founded on the observation of everyday life.

Up until my childhood, in Muslim homes the practice was that if a woman's parents, or some venerable elder, would be present, then she didn't appear before her husband. For example, if a woman would be sitting at home talking with her parents, and her husband would come in, then she would rise and go to some other room, or move away in some other direction. For a woman to talk with her husband in the presence of parents or venerable elders was considered contrary to proper behavior. I

If we look at it against this background, then Mir's verse comes before us as illustrative of a whole culture; and the pleasure is that he also has not fled from the naked mention of passion and desire. In the theme there's such uncommon judiciousness, and truthfulness of perspective, and innovativeness of style-- except for Mir, who was capable of this? A final point is that between the first line and the second line is a relationship of cause and effect [((illat-o-ma((luul]. That is, her not meeting unveiled and acting ashamed in the day, is due to the games played at night.



This verse is also a lovely illustration of the value of hanuuz . Is the beloved ashamed before the lover 'still'? (He would have expected her to get over her shyness now that their intimacy has so increased.) Or is she ashamed before him 'now'? (Perhaps she is only now so shy, shamefaced, abashed-- because now their intimacy has so increased.) Both possibilities are piquant, and the verse doesn't give us any grounds for preferring either over the other.

Of course, this has to be a verse in which the beloved is not imagined to be God; and in fact she seems clearly to be a woman.