Ghazal 179, Verse 1

{179,1}

mai;N u;Nhe;N chhe;Ruu;N aur kuchh nah kahe;N
chal nikalte jo mai piye hote

1) [that] I would tease her, and she would say nothing?!
2) she would have started in, if she had [been in a state of having] drunk wine

Notes:

Nazm:

That is, it's surprising that I would tease her and she would say nothing. Here [in the second line] it would have been better [in idiomatic usage] to cut out the word 'wine'. (202)

== Nazm page 202

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, 'That I would tease her, and in reply to this she wouldn't abuse me-- this is surprising! It seems that at that time she hadn't been drinking wine; thus she understood that I was teasing her.' (260-61)

Bekhud Mohani:

At first he says, that I would tease her and she would remain silent-- I don't understand this. Then he himself reflects-- yes, indeed, the reason for her not becoming angry is that at that time she was not extremely drunk (when lovers tease beloveds, they hear abuse). (356)

FWP:

SETS == EXCLAMATION; FILL-IN
WINE: {49,1}

That idiomatic form chal nikalnaa is one that I had to ask people about, since I thought it might have some kind of double meaning. But apparently it doesn't; it just means 'to begin, to start doing something'. Sometimes, according to S. R. Faruqi, it can have slight erotic overtones.

In the first line, the lover seems to be muttering to himself in amazement. We can't, of course, tell what kind of amazement. Is he relieved to escape so lightly, or disappointed that his witticisms produced no reaction, or simply surprised at her unusual quiescence? Under mushairah performance conditions, we of course have to wait for the second line and hope that it will enlighten us.

Even when we hear the second line, however, we can't tell what alternative behavior on her part the lover might be envisioning. The commentators are sure that what she would have started doing is abusing the lover, but the verse is careful to leave the question open. Perhaps if she had been intoxicated, she might have started flirting, or teasing the lover in return, or doing something else that we can't tell from the verse but that long experience has taught the lover to expect. Since the whole verse is a sort of thoughtful mumble that the lover is saying to himself, it's not surprising that it remains cryptic. We readers have to do the work ourselves, by supplying the missing elements of behavior according to our own experience. The intimacy of the verse is the real hook: it's as though we're overhearing the lover as he talks to himself, trying to make sense of her behavior (and thus of his own prospects too).