Ghazal 189, Verse 5


dostii kaa pardah hai begaanagii
mu;Nh chhupaanaa ham se chho;Raa chaahiye

1a) a veil/curtain for friendship/affection is strangeness/estrangement/shyness
1b) strangeness/estrangement/shyness is a veil/curtain for friendship

2) you ought to leave off hiding your face from us


begaanagii : 'Strangeness, the being foreign or not domestic; estrangement; shyness'. (Platts p.210)


That is, when you hide your face and become a stranger, then in this veiling affection is found. This is, so to speak, a taunt directed at the beloved, through which trick she would leave off veiling herself, and he would attain his goal. (211)

== Nazm page 211

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, in that you veil yourself from us like a stranger and hide your face-- in this veiling affection shows a glimmer, and the viewers feel a suspicion. Thus you ought to leave off hiding your face from us. Mirza Sahib wants through this trick to attain his goal. (270)

Bekhud Mohani:

You veil yourself from us, and through this your intention is that the secret of love would not be revealed. This is the aspect that reveals more secrets. People consider that there's something there-- otherwise, why do you need this veiling from him? Thus if you will meet us without veiling, the way you meet strangers, then no one would have any suspicion.

Mirza has told the world a new thing, and with such forcefulness that it begins to seem that it's a mistake to act against it. (369)


VEIL: {6,1}

On the grammar of chho;Raa chaahiye , see {1,3}.

Why ought you to leave off hiding your face from us? Here are some possible reasons:

=because people will think that if you're hiding then there must be something to hide, so they'll become suspicious of your carefully hidden face (this is the commentators' general reading)

=because we know that such a show of aloofness is really a disguise for attraction-- you ought to stop using that disguise, since it doesn't work, but only reveals to us all the more piquantly how fond you are of us

=because we know that you really are fond of us, and you know it too, so there's no need for coyness or shyness-- relax, and stop pretending

=because a show of aloofness usually cloaks friendship or intimacy, and in fact, oh cruel tyrant, you hate us-- so you should cease to send false signals by veiling yourself from us; you should show your disdain openly, by not bothering to veil yourself

A wide range of moods and arguments; as usual, we're left to make our own choices. But the striking, cryptic first line resonates and keeps on resonating. How can there be an end of what it might mean? For another such ambiguous meditation on the nature and uses of pardah, see {198,2}.