Ghazal 91, Verse 4


bosah nahii;N nah diijiye dushnaam hii sahii
aa;xir zabaa;N to rakhte ho tum gar dahaa;N nahii;N

1) if not a kiss, then don't give it; [give] abuse at least
2) after all, you do have a tongue-- if not a mouth



By kiss is intended a kiss of the mouth-- and when the beloved doesn't have even a mouth, then how could one kiss her or receive a kiss from her? But a tongue is still present to give abuse-- how could that be dispensed with? (90)

== Nazm page 90

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, if you are excused from giving a kiss of the mouth because you have no mouth, saying 'how can I give you a kiss?'-- well, so don't kiss me! I accept this excuse of yours. But give me abuse, because you do have a tongue. How can you find any excuse for not giving abuse? This is a case of 'if not a flower, at least a petal'. (141-42)

Bekhud Mohani:

If you don't give a kiss of the mouth, then don't, because Nature didn't give you a mouth at all. But you have a tongue. Why don't you give me abuse? (185)


Nowadays nobody likes the theme of a kiss and abuse. But in Mirza's time, this kind of verses pleased the poetic taste of the elite. The narrowness of the mouth is a part of beauty. But the poets have used exaggeration and compared it to an 'imaginary dot' and 'nonexistence'-- that is, the mouth is an 'imaginary dot'.... The theme of the verse is absolutely vulgar [baazaarii]. (181)



BELOVED HAS NO MOUTH: The beloved's mouth is so beautifully small that in the hyperbolic ghazal world it shrinks to the vanishing point, so that it actually becomes nonexistent, as in the present verse. Some other verses that play on the beloved's having no mouth: {24,7}; {91,2}; {101,8}; {183,8} // {293x,1}. Just for the record, she also has no waist: on this see {99,4}. (For a bizarre verse that deprives her of fingers, see {50,8x}.)

On the idiomatic uses of hii sahii , see {148,1}.

Kisses and abuses, and paradox. Even if the beloved claims-- perhaps even legitimately-- that her virtually nonexistent mouth means that she can't give kisses, nothing will stop her from delivering abuse (says the lover wryly). But if she doesn't abuse him, he will beg her for abuse anyway. Abuse is, after all, almost part of her job description. It's also a form of relationship between them, since anything is better than her indifference; for an absolutely straightforward statement of this fundamental truth, see {148,2}.

But of course, how can a person without a mouth have a (functioning) tongue? This is the paradoxical and amusing question, the one that makes it clear that the whole verse is tongue-in-cheek (sorry, sorry!) and part of an ongoing exchange of repartee. It's also part of the wit that makes this one such an enjoyable mushairah verse.

Josh's observation is intriguing. If this theme fell into disfavor over time, was it perhaps because of the increasing cult of 'natural poetry'? Obviously, the more you think of lover and beloved as real people, the more vulgar and distasteful is the idea of the beloved abusing the lover.