Chenab’s Story

River Chenab is one of the five rivers of Punjab, now straddling two countries: India and Pakistan. Its journey starts in the Himalayas and it flows through Kashmir and into the plains of Punjab. It is an integral part of Punjabi literature and folklore, known as the River of Romance: many of the timeless love epics of Punjab, including that of Sohni and Mahiwal, revolve this river.

 

 

Chenab’s Story

On the banks of the River Chenab, sits love-struck Shehnaz.

“O! Chenab, tell me about Sohni and Mahiwal’s love,” she says.

 

Sun sets

Zephyr blows

Silence engulfs

Chenab speaks.

 

“I know of a love greater than Sohni and Mahiwal’s,” murmurs Chenab.

 

“Speak Chenab, speak, I’m listening,” replies Shehnaz.

 

Chenab speaks:

“For centuries I flowed

Without a care

Serving all, with a flare.

Then, a being

From a distance realm

Appeared from nowhere.

My dreams, my fears

I revealed all

Gently he listened

To my every word.

Our friendship blossomed

And before long

I fell in love

With this beautiful being.

Desires arose

I ignited

Fauna feared

The inferno.

 

He whispered:

‘Chenab, what has sparked this blaze?’

 

I could not reveal

I was ashamed

I the sinner

Had dared to love

The saint.

Months flew

I shriveled

He agonized

I faded.

 

Then

One night

Unannounced

He came.

 

His light

Opened my every pore

His touch

Cooled my burning soul.

 

He whispered:

‘Don’t you know?

I watch your every move

You are my muse

You are my mirror

Flow my love, flow

Your pain is unbearable.’

 

I prayed for the night

Never to end

But

That was not to be.

 

Hell descended.

Heaven and earth roared

How dare we be together?

For many realms were crossed

Reversing earthly order.

The Sun understood

And graced us

With a few more hours.

 

He whispered:

‘If I stay, all will be destroyed.

What do you want me to do?’

 

 

I shuddered.

He held me.

I looked into his eyes

And saw myself.

My love, I said

Please go back

For our love

Cannot be linked to destruction.

But know that

I’m yours for eternity.

You are the only jewel that will adorn me

You are the only one that will hold me

In your love, I will flow.

 

He whispered:

‘I will radiate in you

For all to see you.’

 

With that, he left

To take his place

In the night sky.

Tears flowed

Watching him rise

Climbing higher and higher

Away from my caress.

 

He whispered:

‘My Chenab

I’ve reached

Flow again

Please flow again.’

 

In his love

I began to flow.”

 

“One night, only one night?” asks Shehnaz.

 

“That was no ordinary night

That night, I surrendered my all

I no longer am my own.

He ebbs and flows in my consciousness

He’s the reason for my being.

 

Love is infinite

Love is perpetual

Love is devotion

Love is wise.”

 

Mesmerized Shehnaz

Goes silent.

 

Stars appear

Chenab hushes.

He appears

Lingering

Over Chenab.

 

Shehnaz witnesses

Chenab’s glow.

His aura

Illuminating Chenab.

He in her

She in him

Glowing and gliding

In perfect rhythm.

He is his realm

Watching over her

She is hers

Flowing for him.
Shehnaz sighs:

‘Is this love?’

 

 

[The translator serves on the Board of The Sikh Research Institute. She is also the author of a children’s book series, “Journey with the Gurus” – www.journeywiththegurus.com]

 

Share this on:

Comment

Sign in or create an account to comment
Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.

Join Us

SikhRI is made possible by hundreds of volunteers, donors, team members and educators—all just like you. Help us illuminate Sikh paths throughout the world.