saath ke pa;Rhne-vaale faari;G ta;h.siil-e ((ilmii se hu))e
jahl se maktab ke la;Rko;N me;N ham dil bahlaate hai;N hanuuz

1) the fellow-students became finished/unoccupied with the acquisition of knowledge

2a) from ignorance/folly, we amuse/beguile our heart among the boys of the school, still/now
2b) among the boys of the ignorant/foolish kind of school, we amuse/beguile our heart, still/now



faari;G : 'Free from care, or anxiety; contented; free from labour or business; free, at leisure, unoccupied, unemployed, disengaged; —cleared, absolved, discharged; —ceasing (from labour, &c.), ending, finishing'. (Platts p.775)


jahl : 'Ignorance, foolishness, silliness; —foolish or senseless disputation, a war of words'. (Platts p.405)

S. R. Faruqi:

This verse too is a fine example of wit. In the second line, the ambiguity is also enjoyable. That is, the jahl might be related to the speaker (we, because of our ignorance/folly) or else to the school (because of the ignorance/folly of the school).

In the word jahl there's also the point that this is our ignorance/folly, that we still amuse/beguile our heart among schoolboys; that is, the proof of our ignorance/folly is that we are interested in boys. Another aspect is that we have remained ignorant/foolish because we have attached our heart to boys instead of education. That is, in the first reading our amusing/beguiling our heart among boys is proof of our ignorance/folly; and in the second reading this is not a proof of ignorance/folly, but is rather its cause.

In the first line, there's also a slight possibility that the acquisition of knowledge was in truth that for some time (for example, up until maturity) there would be friendship with boys, and then upon reaching maturity and awareness this activity would be renounced. As if the fellow-students had all gone through this stage and then gone beyond it; and as if having completed their education they involved themselves with the work of the world; and we are so foolish (or so wise) that even now we are absorbed in the pursuits/activities of immaturity. It's a fine verse.

[See also {1626,5}.]



In the first line we learn that a group of fellow-students, saath ke pa;Rhne-vaale , became faari;G with regard to the acquisition of knowledge. Two questions at once arise, which could only be answered in the second line-- but of course (why are we not surprised?) are not destined to be answered there at all. The first question is about the group of 'fellow-students'. Do they include the speaker ('we fellow-students used to go to school together'), or is the speaker set apart from the rest ('I differed from my fellow-students')? And what exactly does it mean to become faari;G with regard to the acquisition of knowledge (see the definition above)-- does it mean to be free of it because one has completed it in a satisfactory way, or because one has abandoned it, lost interest in it, given it up? In short, here are the possible permutations:

=all of us fellow-students completed our acquisition of knowledge
=all of us fellow-students abandoned the acquisition of knowledge
=my fellow-students completed their acquisition of knowledge
=my fellow-students abandoned the acquisition of knowledge

Now when we look at the second line, we see a brilliantly contrived array of further ambiguities.

= jahl se : does the speaker act 'out of ignorance/folly', or is there a 'school characterized by ignorance/folly'?

= maktab ke la;Rko;N me;N : are these a whole new crop of 'schoolboys' (since the earlier ones in the first line have finished their education), or are these the same group of 'fellow-students' who no longer even try to make any progress in school?

= ham dil bahlaate hai;N : does the speaker amuse himself 'among them' as an equal, by sharing in their pursuits; or does he use them as sources of amusement, by observing their childish behavior with pleasure?

= hanuuz : does the speaker do this 'now' (as a change in his behavior), or does he do it 'still' (as a continuity in his behavior)?

And then, when we consider the 'tone' of the verse-- is the speaker ruefully lamenting his folly, or is he describing his realization that proper, sophisticated 'adult behavior' is a ridiculous or unworthy goal? (And if the latter, is his tone cynical, embittered, cheerful, erotic, or what?)

The most obvious reading treats the boys as (potential) beloveds; but of course their possible charms are subsumed in the description of the speaker's behavior. So this verse might be about ignorance/folly (and of course the question of what it 'really' is) rather than about anything erotic. But the verse is certainly what I call a 'generator'-- a verse with so many ambiguities that one can hardly manage to read it the same way twice. The ability of Mir and Ghalib to create such tiny-seeming worlds that nevertheless are bursting out with meaning and pleasure in all directions, is something that never ceases to bahlaanaa my dil .