ruu;The jo the so ham se ruu;The hu))e vidaa((ii
kyaa ro))iye hame;N to minnat bhii kar nah aa))ii

1) since she/he/they became vexed-- so, vexed with us, a farewell/parting
2) how would we weep?! -- we didn't know even/also how to (successfully) plead/entreat!



ruu;Thnaa : 'To be irritated, be vexed, be offended or displeased, to take offence or umbrage; to quarrel, to have a misunderstanding (with a friend), to become estranged, to be cool'. (Platts p.604)


minnat : 'Kindness or service done (to); favour, obligation; —grace, courtesy; —entreaty, humble and earnest supplication; —grateful thanks, praise'. (Platts pp.1070-71)

S. R. Faruqi:

This verse illustrates the basic dichotomy of human relationships, to which Askari Sahib has referred again and again: that passion is at the same time a trouble, and also a blessing. Along with this there's also the melancholy of a failure of communation, because one meaning of minnat bhii nah kar aa))ii can be that all the words of pleading and persuasion that we used were ineffective. That is, our words were not able to accomplish our purpose. Or again, we were not able to find good words. Or again, we didn't at all know how words should be arranged so that the aspect of pleading would emerge; etc.

The truth is that despite its apparent simplicity-- or rather, its looseness of structure-- this whole verse itself is a factory for ambiguity. If one doesn't look closely, then the verse seems to be slightly interesting, but somewhat colorlessly expressed. But if one pauses a bit for reflection, then the whole world/condition of the verse can be seen to change color. And reflection is necessary, because its theme is in any case fresh. The beloved has for some reason become vexed. We wanted to placate her, but she didn't let herself be placated. Now we are sorrowful that we let her go away angry.

But the truth is that this idea itself is ambiguous-- what is the basic cause of the speaker's grief? Here are some possibilities:

(1) that the beloved went away vexed; or,
(2) that we didn't know how to placate her; or,
(3) that we angered her, so that now she won't come again; or,
(4) that we don't understand whether to grieve over (a) her going; or (b) the failure of communication; or (c) our unskilfulness in the art of persuasion; or
(5) that it's no use for an incapable lover like us even to weep.

Well, subtleties within the idea have kept emerging. Now let's look at the verse from the beginning.

The first point is that the state of affairs in which this verse came to be present is itself ambiguous. That is, perhaps the beloved had come from some other city or region to meet the lover, but she became vexed at some words of the lover's and went away. Or perhaps after some days of staying together, the lover said or did something that vexed the beloved. And she remained vexed until the last minute. A third possibility is that the beloved lives in the same city where the lover lives; one time he came to meet the beloved, and then it happened that during the meeting, or while leaving, the beloved became vexed and then remained vexed.

Here, take note that the idea is of the beloved's vexation itself, not of annoyance or anger at some basic thing. And if this vexation was during the beginning or the middle of the meeting, then the beloved did not angrily or indignantly leave at once, but rather in any case she completed the period of the meeting or the visit. And if this was the case, then there's also the possibility of reconciliation or renewal of friendship.

Now let's consider further. The theme of the verse is the departure of vexed one(s). That is, this can be about some one person (the beloved), and also about many people. If we consider the latter case, then it's probable that the verse is not about setting off on some worldly journey, but rather about dying. The speaker is sorrowful about his friend, who had become vexed with him and had remained so, until death summoned her and bore her away. 'Now how should I weep for her? I am so unfortunate that I wasn't even able to please her!' Now from here, two meanings emerge for minnat bhii kar nah aa))ii . (1) I wasn't able to placate them (the beloved, or the departing ones) even enough to delay their going. (2) I wasn't able to placate them (the beloved, or the departing ones) even enough so that they would give up their anger as they departed, and set out cheerfully (or at least clear their hearts toward me).

The first line can also be read like this: ruu;The jo the , so ham se ruu;The , hu))e vidaa))ii . On this reading there's no special change in the meaning, but there's a difference in emphasis. Now the meaning becomes: (1) In their (the beloved's or the friends') vexation there was so much finality that when they once became vexed, then they remained vexed, even until the time of going away (dying) came. (2) Those people (the beloved or someone else) who had at some time become vexed with me-- later there was never a chance to meet them or reconcile with them, and they went away.

Now let's consider kyaa ro))iye . It has the following meanings:

(1) How can I grieve over their going/dying? I wasn't able even to placate them, so that they would be persuaded or would stay.

(2) When I wasn't able even to plead, why would I weep? Now, what good is my weeping?

(3) I myself am so self-regarding, so unintelligent, so corrupt-hearted that I didn't even know how, or wasn't even able, to plead. So now how would I weep? If I wasn't able to do that, then I won't be able to do this either.

(4) Should I weep now, because I wasn't even able to plead, or didn't know how to plead?

(5) Since I was so heartbroken and mute that I wasn't able even to open my lips in order to plead, how would it now be possible for me to weep? The man who was not able to bring to his lips the immediate concern of his heart-- how will he weep?

Just consider-- it's a verse of 'affair-evocation', apparently absolutely plain, yet with such an abundance of meaning! Then, the poet was a gentleman of more than seventy-five years of age. Such a verse cannot be composed even by very great ones, even in their youth. If such a poet is not a great poet and the 'Lord of Poetry', then will any Tom, Dick, and Harry be so?



In the first line, ham se is positioned as a 'midpoint' phrase that could be read either with the phrase after it (as in the translation above) or with the phrase before it ('In that you became vexed with us-- thus [in a state of] having become vexed, a parting'). The difference is small, but it's there. (And then, in addition, there's the third reading also explicated by SRF, though it's less compelling.)

But of course kyaa ro))iye is the real ambiguity engine in the verse, because of the 'kya effect'. It can be a question ('Would we weep?'). Or it can be an affirmative exclamation ('How we would weep!'). Or it can be an indignant exclamation of rejection ('As if we would weep!').

Then, what is the relationship between kyaa ro))iye and the rest of the second line ('We didn't know how to plead')? The grammar gives us no clue (since the little to is hardly much help); the two phrases are simply placed next to each other. And is the speaker's weeping (or not weeping) connected to the rest of the second line at all, or is it a response to the first line? Here are some of the most obvious possibilities:

=He might (or might not) (or might he?) weep with regret over the failure of his pleading.

=He might (or might not) (or might he?) weep with regret over the failure of his pleading, because any such weeping would now be too late to do any good.

=He might (or might not) (or might he?) weep over the beloved's vexed departure, and in the process lament the failure of his pleading.

By the time these and perhaps other possibilitiess (see SRF's discussion) have been subjected to the multiplier of the 'kya effect', the verse is indeed a sort of ambiguity machine (though it rings the changes on ideas that are less exciting than some that Mir uses in other verses).

Note for grammar fans: In the second line, kar aanaa idiomatically means something like 'to have fully effected, executed, accomplished, settled' something (Platts. p.828); the agreement is with minnat . Alternatively, it would (or wouldn't) 'come to' one to do minnat in a 'knowing how' construction that in modern Urdu uses not the root but the infinitive-- kyaa aap ko vuh kaam karnaa aataa hai ?