Ghazal 137, Verse 1


;haa.sil se haath dho bai;Th ai aarzuu-;xiraamii
dil josh-e giryah me;N hai ;Duubii hu))ii asaamii

1) wash your hands of any fruit/result, oh longing-gait!
2) the heart, in the turmoil of tears, is a {drowned person / 'deadbeat debtor'}


haath dho bai;Thnaa : 'To wash the hands (of); to despair (of); to renounce, relinquish'. (Platts p.1215)


aarzuu : 'Wish, desire, longing, eagerness; hope; trust; expectation; intention, purpose, object, design. inclination, affection, love'. (Platts p.40)


;xiraamii : 'Walking, gait'. (Platts p.488)


;Duubnaa : 'To dive; to sink, drown, be drowned; to drown oneself; to be immersed, be submerged, inundated, deluged, or flooded; to be lost, be sacrificed (as capital, reputation, &c.); to be destroyed, be ruined;... to be absorbed, be engrossed, be lost (in business, or study, or thought, &c.)'. (Platts p.570)


asaamii : 'Person, individual; party; substitute; employee, servant; friend, lover; customer, purchaser; client; inhabitant; tenant; cultivator, defendant (in a law-suit); debtor; culprit; witness'. (Platts pp.46-47)


By aarzuu-;xiraamii the author means a gait/pace toward one's longing.... A 'deadbeat debtor' [;Duubii hu))ii asaamii] is that debtor from whom there's no hope of repayment. The meaning is that from the turmoil of tears no such fruit will be obtained that would be according to one's longing or the object of one's movement. The heart ought to be considered a 'deadbeat debtor', since its garden remained without fruit. In this verse 'to wash one's hands' and 'to drown in the turmoil of tears' form a .zil((a ; and bai;Th has been brought in for the sake of ;xiraam . (146-47)

== Nazm page 146; Nazm page 147

Bekhud Dihlavi:

A 'deadbeat debtor' [;Duubii hu))ii asaamii] is a term among landlords for a peasant farmer afflicted by some damage, and he would owe so many rupees to the moneylender that all hope of repaying them would be gone. And among gamblers, it's a term for someone who would constantly keep losing.... The meaning is, oh longing, you trust to tears to produce the desire of your heart. And the ineffectiveness of weeping has drowned the heart; it seems that nothing will turn out the way you want it to. (202-03)

Bekhud Mohani:

Oh longing, you thought that the turmoil of tears would be a cause of attaining your desire. This is your mistake. (269)



Nazm points out the enjoyably complex wordplay in dho bai;Th (see the definition above). (Isn't it lucky that in English we have the idiomatic 'wash your hands of' that's almost the same?) The bai;Th is really only an auxiliary verb, but it cleverly smuggles in a notion of 'sitting' that balances the 'gait' or 'pace' associated with longing. And of course, one can 'wash the hands' [haath dhonaa] in the same water-- or 'tears' [giryah]-- in which someone else has 'drowned' [;Duubnaa].

In classic mushairah-verse style, the first line is impossible to interpret in isolation; it seems both abstract and wilfully obscure (why should one address a semi-personified 'longing-gait'?) Not until we are allowed (after a suitably tantalizing interval) to hear the second line do we suddenly catch on, and even then, the 'punch-phrase' is withheld until the last possible moment: it's really the sudden colloquial perfection of the drowned 'deadbeat debtor' [;Duubii hu))ii asaamii] that pulls it all together, and surely the first hearers must have burst out laughing. It's easy to imagine the 'longing-gait' closing in firmly, determined to acquire the 'fruit' of its desires. But the bystander calls out, mockingly or with genuine goodwill, to tell it not to bother: you can't get blood from a stone, and the heart has nothing left to offer: the heart has drowned in its own tears, it's a 'deadbeat debtor' if there ever was one.