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Several Days Had Passed
by Mir Anis
guzar gaye thay kayee din ke ghar mein aab na thaa
Several days had passed since there was any water at home
By saying “several days” and leaving the actual number indeterminate, we are left to wonder how many days. How many days did they go without water? Also, calling a temporary encampment “home” reminds us that he was a destitute stranger.
magar husayn se saabir ko iztiraab na thaa
But someone as patient as Husayn wasn’t restless at all
First, there is the contrast between patience and restlessness. Second, patience itself isn’t enough—only a man as patient as Husayn could be at peace in this situation.
agar bahisht mein ho te na kausar-o-tasneem
If not for the rivers Kausar and Tasneem in the Garden
to rone vaalon kee aankhon kaa phir jawaab na thaa
The eyes of those who cry would have no peer
The rivers are superior both with respect to their current and their excellence. When you compare something inferior to something superior, you raise the inferior thing.
faqat husayn ke bachchon pe band thaa paani
They simply denied Husayn’s children of water
First, there is the contrast between the abundance of water in the previous lines and the denial of water in this line. One of the rivers, Kausar, is Zahra. Not only is her son Husayn denied water, but his children are too. Faqat doesn’t mean only here; it means simply. Husayn’s children were denied water for no good reason.
bohot qareeb thee vo nahr qaht-e aab na thaa
Otherwise, that river was so close—there was no scarcity of water
They were denied water and yet the river was a stone’s throw away. Qaht-e aab is a shortage of rainfall that results in drought. In other words, it’s not like rain had not been sent down from the sky. They did what they did out of malice.
vo log jamma thay qatl-e husayn par ke jinhe
The people who had gathered to kill Husayn
“Vo log” is belittling.
khoda se khauf muhammad se kuch hijaab na tha
Didn’t fear God or even feel ashamed before Muhammad
“Hijab” is used in the sense of shame. The repetition of the same expression below is heartbreaking because of the different context and meaning.
Many people don’t fear God, but these villains didn’t even feel shame before Muhammad. There’s also an allusion to the idea that Muhammad looked on as the day’s events unfolded.
ghazab kee jaa hai ke darbaar mein sitamgar ke
It’s outrageous/enraging that in the tyrant’s court
“Ghazab” can be used in expressions of amazement and indignation. Both work here. Ali and Zainab herself guarded her honor carefully and yet we hear that she is standing in the court of Yazid—this is amazing but also incites rage.
khadi thee(n) binte ali aur kuch hijaab na thaa
There stood the daughter of Ali completely exposed
“Aur kuch hijab na thaa” should be read as a question. Was there no curtain? Or are you saying, God forbid, her head was uncovered!?