This post was also published here, on the Ziauddin University Atlas Blog.
Man’s heart a river be
deeper in depth than the unfathomable oceans,
Ah! Who knows the wailing of the heart
in search of its Lord?
Sultan Bahu, d. 1691, (translated from the Punjabi bySayed Akhlaque Husain Tauhid i)
THERE is a stubborn Sohni in my soul who longs to cross the Chenab of two worlds to reach her beloved, Mahiwal. I refuse. She persists. I patiently explain how fragile my ghaṛiya; how vast—how turbulent—the waters. It is but a simple thing fashioned of simple, unbaked clay: how dare it aspire—ad astra—to the stars? She smiles at me and slowly shakes her lovely head.
A marvellous thing: as we watch the shoreline recede behind us—and the waters swirl higher, ever higher—my turbid heart settles for the first time since I was a boy of twelve and found that battered old copy of the Conference of the Birds and learnt of love and Love.
And together, my Sohni and I watch as ourMahiwal appears on the distant bank and dives into the waves and strikes out for our simple, fragile, star-seeking, little ghaṛiya.
(Still from the music video of Coke Studio’s “Paar Chanaan De” (Across the Chenab) by Noori ft. Shilpa Rao.)