aa;Nkhe;N udhar se muu;Nd lii;N hai;N ab to shar:t hai
phir dekhiyo nah merii :taraf ek baar dekh

1) I have turned my eyes from that direction; now, the stipulation/bargain is
2) do not look again in my direction-- having, one time, looked



shar:t : 'A condition, stipulation, agreement, term, provision, engagement, bargain; a wager, bet'. (Platts p.725)

S. R. Faruqi:

The insha'iyah style of the second line has created in the verse an extraordinary grandeur/dignity. The theme is not entirely new, but the style of expression has created a freshness in it. The speaker has broken off his relationship with everyone except the beloved-- so much so that he has turned his eyes away from everything in the world. Now he has the hope and expectation that the beloved will look in his direction. The ab to shar:t hai has been said in order to give force and to command attention.

In the second line, several meanings are possible. (1) 'Having looked in my direction one time, do not look again.'

(2) 'Look-- look again in my direction, all right?' On this reading, the refrain dekh is an imperative and a demand for attention, as in Ghalib's verse


(3) 'You have already looked one time in my direction, now look once more, won't you?' That is, previously the lover will have created a clamor and commotion. Or when he will have stubbornly lifted his eyes toward the beloved, the beloved too will have looked in his direction. Now instead of wildness and madness, there's the stage of absorption and quiet; the lover has turned his face away from the world. Now he makes a request: 'One time then you looked at me; one time now look at what state I'm in.'

In view of this last interpretation, it's also possible that the speaker might not now be in this world. In such a case, it will be better to read udhar instead of idhar . In any case, the verse can be addressed either to a human beloved or to a divine Beloved. But if the addressee is a human beloved, then in the verse there's also a sarcastic dimension. That is, if the speaker has closed his eyes toward every direction, then he won't even know when the beloved has looked in his direction, or whether she has looked in his direction or not. In such a case, the speaker's closing his eyes toward every direction has proved useless. Though indeed, if the situation is entirely metaphorical (that is, if by turning the eyes away from every direction is meant breaking one's relationship with everyone), then intensity comes into the meaning, but the sarcastic dimension disappears. It's a remarkably convoluted verse.



What about that somewhat awkward second line? SRF's second reading amounts to taking phir dekhiyo nah to mean something like 'Then, pay attention, won't you?' The idea is something like the English 'Look here!', which is not visual but usually means 'Pay attention to this!'.

SRF's first reading of the second line-- the one I have shown above-- is more compelling, however, since it sets up its own little mystery. It enjoins the beloved to look toward the speaker once, and then never to look that way again. Is this because one look will finish him off, and she won't be obliged to look again and watch him actually collapse and die? Is it because one look will sustain him for a lifetime, and he doesn't wish to trespass on her dignity by seeming to require a second look?

The richest way to account for this reading, however, is to pick up on the word shar:t , and take it seriously as referring to a 'condition, stipulation, bargain' (see the definition above). On that reading, the speaker is proposing a deal, a bargain, to the beloved (or perhaps reminding her of one they have already agreed on). He says, 'Look, I've done my part-- I've turned my eyes away from everything in the world, everything in 'that' direction; my eyes are now only on you. Now, in return for this, your part of the deal is that you must look one time in my direction; after that, you needn't ever look my way again.' He even takes pains to mention the sweetener first ('You never have to look my way thereafter'), before coming to the actual requirement ('One time, look!').

Of course, it's a pretty unequal bargain-- but then in the ghazal world, what else would we expect?