aubaash la;Rko;N se to bahut kar chuke ma((aash
ab ((umr kaa;Tiyegaa kisuu miirzaa ke saath

1) you have, after all, already spent/'done' much living/livelihood with rakish/dissolute boys
2) now you will spend your lifetime with some prince/aristocrat?!



aubaash : 'A mixed company or crowd of people (especially of the meanest sort), mob; canaille; —a bad character, dissolute fellow, profligate, debauchee, rake, libertine; —adj. Dissolute, profligate, rakish, lecherous'. (Platts p.101)


ma((aash : 'Living, life; —that whereby one lives, means of living, livelihood, subsistence; landed property'. (Platts p.1046)

S. R. Faruqi:

On a cursory glance, this verse has no special excellence. The idea seems obvious, and the style colorless. But despite its apparent flatness, it has aspects of meaning that demand attention. Mir-- and the poets of the eighteenth century-- have called the beloved an aubaash , and have also accorded to her the title of miirzaa . Between aubaash and miirzaa the basic difference is that an aubaash would be of a common and baazaarii character. Such a person is devoid of self-control and dignity; nothing stops him from fighting, quarreling, coming to blows, and crude behavior. See:


In addition to this, Mir has said:


By contrast, a 'Mirza' has dignity, stateliness, a delicate temperament, and a refined personality. Mir himself says:


Sayyid Muhammad Khan Rind says:

faqr me;N bhii vuhii dimaa;G hai rind
buu nahii;N jaatii miirzaa))ii kii

[even/also in poverty, there is only/emphatically the same mind, Rind
the aroma of Mirza-ness doesn't go away]

From these two verses it's also clear that the quality of Mirza-ness can be be in both the beloved and the lover. In the present verse, the speaker is saying, to himself or to someone else, 'You have spent a lot of your lifetime with rakish boys, now your intention is to attach your heart to some Mirza'. But plainly there's also no mention of attaching the heart; rather, the mention is of passing the lifetime. Thus it's possible that rakish boys might be good for evoking passion, but that for carrying on genteelly over time (whether there would be passion or not), Mirza types are better.

Plainly there's no mention of passion with the rakish boys either, but there's no vision of passing a lifetime with rakish boys, or of establishing a household with them. Thus if there's any affair [mu((aamalah] with them, then it will only be one of passion.

There's also the point that nowhere in the verse is it said that the decision to renounce the society of rakish boys and pass the lifetime with some Mirza has been made because life with the rakish boys was very vile/vulgar. This could be so, but because of the lack of explicitness we cannot say with confidence that things went badly with those boys. And it absolutely cannot be said that life will pass better with a Mirza. Thus in the verse there's sarcasm directed toward everyone-- the rakish boys, the Mirza, and the speaker himself.

The verb form kaa;Tiyegaa means 'will pass/spend' [kaa;Te;Nge], and this is a special idiom of Delhi.

A final point is that the second line can also be interrogative. In this case, the meaning will be entirely sarcastic-- the speaker says to the addressee, 'All right, do you now intend to spend your lifetime with some Mirza?'. Or in a second sense there's a kind of despair-- 'Now, to give your heart peace, or to attain some purpose in life, you want to keep company with some Mirza?!'. In a third sense, it's a simple question: 'You have spent a great part of your life with rakish boys (perhaps you got something out of this, perhaps you did not)-- now what is your intention, now will you spend the rest of your life with some Mirza?'. Here the ambiguity of the speaker too is enjoyable.

On the theme of Mirza-ness, Shah Mubarak Abru has composed a strange and remarkable verse:

miirzaa))ii se hu))e naa-mard dillii ke amiir
naaz ke maare phirii jaatii hai mizhgaa;N kii sipaah

[from Mirza-ness, Delhi's aristocrats have become unmanned
through coquetry, an army of eyelashes turns back]

In the light of this verse, it can be seen that 'Mirza-ness' also means 'delicacy, softness'. (Perhaps it was for this reason that later the idiomatic expression mirzaa phoyaa came to exist.) If 'Mirza-ness' means 'delicacy' and 'sensitivity', then in Mir's verse there's a new pleasure of sarcasm-- that the rakish boys have ruined his future prospects; thus now he intends to catch hold of the garment-hem of some Mirza. But if Mirza types are so sensitive, and so delicate and refined that their eyelashes always keep fluttering (even if because of the fluttering of the army of eyelashes they would be called naa-mard , devoid of the abilities and courage for fighting), then to keep company with people like them will be fully as difficult as it was with the rakish boys.

Here it's necessary also to explain that for eyelashes the simile of an army is used. Long eyelashes (which are elements of beauty and delicacy) are usually a bit curvy and rippling. This is construed as the turning back of the ranks, or armies, of eyelashes (that is, the retreat or flight of an army). Thus Mir has a verse in the first divan [{405,4}]:

he;Ngii bar-gashtah ve .saf-e mizhgaa;N
phir ga))ii hai sipaah mat puuchho

[they will be turned back, those ranks of eyelashes
the army has retreated-- don't ask!]

Ghalib too has versified the theme of the army of eyelashes [in an unpublished verse}:


[See also {471,7}.]



This is such a witty and amusing verse! I find even an additional set of pleasures in it, beyond those that SRF has explicated. The key question, here as so often, is the relationship of the two lines. The first line reports matter-of-factly on the addressee's past history; the second line proposes or hypothesizes a possible change of course for the future. The verse offers no value judgments whatsoever, about any of the behavior. Here are some ways to juxtapose the lines:

=Past versus future: You've already done one thing for quite a long time; now you might do something else, perhaps for a bit of variety.

=Poor versus rich: You've already devoted a good portion of your livelihood [ma((aash] to profligate boys; now you might recoup your finances by cultivating someone with money.

=Vulgar versus refined: You've been keeping company with really low, vulgar ruffians; now you might spend your time with someone more sophisticated and refined.

=Young versus old: You've been keeping company with young teenagers for a large part of your life; now you yourself are older, and you might seek to spend your time with a grownup.

=Immoral versus moral(?): You've been living in a sinful, shameful, publicly disgraceful way; now you might decide to do something more virtuous, and/or respectable.

It is this last possibility that's the most truly funny. For the first line sets us up to anticipate a possible moral criticism in the second line, such as we find in


But then the second line-- it's so suddenly, deflatingly different from what we would have expected! And, naggingly, it's not even clear whether it's actually so different, or what exactly it's proposing. A lot depends on whether the 'Mirza' is to represent an alternative source of sexual attraction, or an alternative of some other kind; and of course, the verse is cleverly arranged so that we can't at all tell. The effect is maddening, and that makes it even funnier.

It's also intriguing that when one makes that list of opposites, 'love' verses 'non-love' doesn't seem to come into it at all. The verse just doesn't invite that kind of differentiation.

SRF also proposes that we should introduce the 'kya effect' by taking the second line as a question from which the kyaa has been colloquially omitted. This possibility produces the usual range of readings: the affirmative exclamation ('now, how differently you'll live, with a Mirza!), the interrogative ('now will you live with a Mirza, or will you not?'), and best of all, the indignantly negative exclamation: 'As if you'll spend the rest of your life with some Mirza!'. The very idea evokes scorn; the 'some Mirza' here acquires a particularly withering tone. You'll never do it-- you've been hopelessly spoiled, for better and/or worse, by all those years with the rakish boys. (Just as Umra'o Jan, despite all her protestations of shame at her career as a courtesan, confesses finally that in fact she would rather do anything than live in pardah.)

I couldn't find out what kind of figure a 'Mirza Phoya' might be, so I asked SRF. Here's his account (Jan. 2017):

Mirza Phoya is a proverbial, fictional character. He represents a male who is effeminate and prone to illnesses, especially casual illnesses like the cold, etc. He is a shy, shrinking violet type; he dresses meticulously, is overly clean, and avoids coming into contact with any kind of ‘polluting’ matter, or even dust or anything that may be likely to leave a faint spot or mark on the dress. In short, a ‘gentleman’, but one who shrinks from any kind of physical activity, etc. He can’t stand strong perfumes, not to speak of bad odours etc.