Ghazal 21, Verse 4


nigaah-e be-mu;haabaa chaahtaa huu;N
ta;Gaafulhaa-e tamkii;N-aazmaa kyaa

1) I want an unceremonious/uninhibited gaze--
2) what [are these] dignity-testing negligences?!


mu;haabaa : 'Partiality (for); lenient or gentle treatment, kind behaviour; respect, regard, friendship, affection; --caution, care'. (Platts p.1006)


be-mu;haabaa : 'Without respect, unceremonious'. (Platts p.204)


ta;Gaaful : 'Unmindfulness, heedlessness, forgetfulness, neglect, negligence, inattention, inadvertence, indifference, listlessness'. (Platts p.328)


In order to see into my heart, and test my self-control, what is this manner of averting your eyes? (22)

== Nazm page 22


Urdu text: Vajid 1902 {21}

Bekhud Dihlavi:

Meet my eyes. I won't be able to endure your gaze, and will collapse. Why do you test my endurance and steadfastness by averting your eyes? I am not one to become fearful and agitated. (44-45)

Bekhud Mohani:

I want you to always look at me with shameless gazes. This endurance-testing negligence doesn't please me. Meet me without a veil. (53)


GAZE: {10,12}
TESTING: {4,4}

A direct, unceremonious gaze, one devoid of politeness and formality, one that might express hostility or anger-- of course that's what the lover wants. It will restore him to life. And/or it will kill him, as in {78,5} (and for that matter, as later in this ghazal, in {21,9}). The lover demands an unceremonious gaze in words and grammar so plain, straightforward and 'unceremonious' that the effect is amusingly redoubled.

Instead, he gets 'dignity-testing' [tamkii;N-aazmaa] shows of negligence and avoidance, as the beloved refuses to vouchsafe him a look. Why are her avoidances 'dignity-testing'?

=Because she is doing it sadistically, to torment him, the way a cat plays with a mouse?

=Because she is doing it deliberately, according to an actual plan of 'testing', to see how he reacts?

=Because he can hardly refrain from humiliating himself by begging for a glance, since it will restore him to life?

=Because he is impatiently awaiting the swift, remorseless fatality of a single full look, and he knows he is worthy of a clean death, as in a bullfight?

The pleasure of the verse is the ambiguity of both be-mu;haabaa (which leaves open the possibility of cruelty as well as enjoyment) and tamkii;N-aazmaa (which leaves open the question of how the dignity is being tested, and whether deliberately or inadvertently).