Ghazal 20, Verse 2


tire va((de par jiye ham to yih jaan jhuu;T jaanaa
kih ;xvushii se mar nah jaate agar i((tibaar hotaa

1a) if we lived on your promise, then know this-- we knew [it to be] false
1b) if we lived on your promise, then this, dearest/'life', we knew to be false
1c) we lived on your promise-- know [reading tuu] this: we knew [it to be] false

2) for would we not have died of happiness, if we had had trust/confidence [in it]?


va((dah : 'A promise; vow; --an agreement, a bargain; an assignation, appointment'. (Platts p.1196)


i((tibaar : 'Confidence, trust, reliance, faith, belief; respect, esteem, repute; credit, authority, credibility; weight, importance; regard, respect, view, consideration, reference'. (Platts p.60)


That is, when we said, 'We have escaped dying only because of hearing the promise of union', you knew it was false. The second interpretation is that, having heard your promise, if we kept on living, the reason was that we considered it a false promise. (20)

== Nazm page 20


Urdu text: Vajid 1902 {20}

Bekhud Dihlavi:

When you reproach us for hearing a promise of union and not dying, this is right. But the reason we kept on living was that we considered your promise false. (42)

Bekhud Mohanii:

We didn't die of happiness at your promise of union. The reason for this was exactly that we didn't trust your promise. The beloved has said, what kind of a lover are you-- that we promised union, and you didn't die of happiness? This verse is the answer. (48)



VOWS verses: {6,12x}; {9,5}; {20,2}; {20,3}; {21,12}; {30,1}; {53,7}; {82,3x}; {89,3}*, on the uses of qasam ; {100,2}; {107,7}; {108,8}; {123,6}; {129,4x}; {132,9x}; {136,2}; {139,4}; {139,8}; {145,4}; {151,8}; {167,3}; {170,6}; {170,7}; {176,7}; {188,4x}; {190,11x}; {192,5}; {202,7}; {206,2}; {214,9}; {216,4x}; {228,6} // {258x,3}; {280x,2}; {287x,6}; {341x,1}; {349x,7}; {407x,4}; {422x,7}; {427x,4}

Another classic verse full of wordplay and sound-play, with a carefully contrived nest of confusions in the second half of the first line. Is it to or tuu -- since to , 'then', can also be read as tuu , the intimate 'you' (1c)? And to what does yih refer? And is jaan the intimate imperative of jaan'naa , 'to know (1a)? Or is it a feminine noun meaning 'life', and metaphorically 'dearest', as an epithet for a loved one (2b)?

I think reading (1a) is the best, followed by (1b) and (1c) in that order; but none of them can be ruled out.

The general logic is clear enough, though of course paradoxical. And the direct, intimate address to the beloved makes it feel like a (rare) moment of oneupsmanship in what is always a radically unequal relationship. After all, the basis for even this small moment of triumph is the question of whether the lover lives because of the beloved's promise (of union), or dies because of it. These seem to be the only two possibilities.

Yet the perversely triumphant riposte in the second line adds a note of humor and self-mockery that makes the verse a delight. 'Aha!' says the lover, 'I've got you! You think you have all the power, but I've scored a small triumph of both logic and insight. The very fact that I've gone on living shows that I never did trust your promise! So now that it has proven false, you can't claim that you ever fooled me-- I know you too well!'

And yet perhaps the lover did somehow live on it-- otherwise why and how is he alive at all? The same paradoxical effect, that the lover both lives and dies through the beloved, is expressed in {219,8} as well.

From a privately printed collection by Kamil Hyderabadi, with thanks to Mansoor Khan