Kids Corner

Above: detail from Sobha Singh's painting, "Sohni Mahiwal."


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.

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 distant 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.


One night


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


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


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?”

October 5, 2014

Conversation about this article

1: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), October 05, 2014, 6:11 PM.

"Nahee reesaan Chenab di-aan bhaanvay sukka hi pia wagay ..." "Nothing comes close to the glory of the Chenab, not even when it runs dry ..."

2: Harinder Singh (Bridgewater, New Jersey, USA), October 05, 2014, 9:30 PM.

Poets-lovers of Punjab call Chenab 'Jhana'. Many folktales are located at the banks of Jhana. My favorites are Heer-Ranjha and Sohni-Mahiwal. Harinder Singh Mehboob's epic-poem which won the Sahitya Academy award is entitled 'Jhana di Raat'. Even when the Jhana is dry, it speaks aloud. Many thanks to Inni bhain ji for invoking Chenab through Shehnaz.

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