Ghazal 36, Verse 9


ham the marne ko kha;Re paas nah aayaa nah sahii
aa;xir us sho;x ke tarkash me;N ko))ii tiir bhii thaa

1) we were standing ready to die-- if she didn't come near, then so be it

2a) after all, in that mischievous one's quiver there was one or another arrow too!
2b) after all, in that mischievous one's quiver was there even any arrow?



The late Hakim Razi ud-Din Khan was an extremely close friend of Mirza's. He didn't care for mangoes. One day he was seated in the verandah of Mirza's house, and Mirza was there as well. A donkey-driver passed through the lane with his donkey. Some mango-skins were lying there; the donkey took a sniff, then left them. The Hakim Sahib said, 'Look-- a mango is such that even a donkey [gadhaa bhii] doesn't eat it!' Mirza said, 'Without a doubt, a donkey doesn't eat it.'
==Urdu text: p. 70 in Hali, Yadgar-e Ghalib


That is, if she didn't come near, then she should at least have shot an arrow from afar! (36)

== Nazm page 36

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, we had come and stood before her to sacrifice our life. If she considered it contrary to her dignity to come near us, then at least she should have shot an arrow from afar! The meaning is that she should definitely have made even a worthless lover like us the prey of her airs and graces. (71)


If this indifference to life-sacrificers is not mischievousness, then what is it? (105)


ARCHERY: {6,2}

This one is a classic, and plays perfectly on the two meanings of bhii , 'too' and 'even'. Ghalib was keenly aware of the importance of small but powerful particles like bhii , as Hali's anecdote above amusingly demonstrates.

On the first reading (2a), if she didn't come near us, that was all right, because after all she had one or another, 'some' [ko))ii] arrow 'too' in her quiver, and thus could shoot us from afar. But because she is mischievous, she might or might not actually loose the arrow on her helpless prey. This is the meaning the commentators adopt.

On the second reading (2b), we have no illusions about the radical nature of her mischievousness-- did she 'even' bother to bring any arrows in her quiver, or was that too much trouble? This reading rests on a yes-or-no question with the introductory kyaa colloquially omitted; see the next verse, {36,10}, for an irrefutable example of the same usage.)

For a thematically very similar verse in which bhii is not made to do such tricks, but only means 'even', see {112,9}. Then for a verse in which bhii means only 'also', see the one after it, {112,10}.

For more on nah sahii , see {9,4}.