Kids Corner

Above: detail from Sobha Singh's iconic painting of the 'Sohni Mahiwaal' legend.


Liv's River Channab





I drive into the carpool lot to pick up my four-year old daughter, Liv Kaur, last Friday afternoon, from her Montessori school. She is standing in a line, clinging on to her folder close to her heart.

Her eyes light up as she sees me. Even before she settles in the car, she tells me in chaste Punjabi, “I have made something special for you.”

Enthusiastically she reaches into her folder and hands me her artwork. “You have to see it now, Ma!” Her voice tells me that this can’t wait. I pull the car over to the side.

I look over a spiral drawing in deep reds and brown.

“It is the Jhanaa dariaa (River Chanaab). Look at the river, mom, What do you see?”

“Waves in the middle of the river?”

“Yes, but look from the top. It is also the gharhaa (earthen pot). The dariaa itself becomes the gharhaa, mom, and, it will save Sohni. This time Sohni will not drown. She will reach Mahiwaal.” 

“Will you tell Mritunjaya this, Mom?”

“I will”.

Only a few days before this, Amarjit Singh Chandan, a Brit-Punjabi poet, had sent me the song, “Rang Baringiaa Ve”. He had asked me to play this song for Liv. He had said “Liv will like this. The writer-singer is a friend of mine.” 

Amarjit ji and I had connected only a few weeks ago. In these weeks he had sensed and smelled my penchant and yearning for the Punjabi language and literature all the way across the Atlantic. Before no time he knew what I and my parenting of Liv was all about. Since then, he has taken me on a journey to a new world, the world of Punjabi literature, especially poetry. The one I thought I would enter some day in the future (after I was done with my children’s literature), but had no idea of where it existed.

Or that it was alive and thriving. That it was waiting to consume me.

Mritunjay is one of the first stops in that journey and a totally spectacular one.

I heard the song.

The voice. The words. The depth. The connection. The agitation. My Jhanaa swells up.

My eyes let it out …

nadi-e charh aa nee
ho-ee jind taiaar
kachiaa taaree ve
maahi-aa milsee paar

I am transported. I look at Liv. She is questioning the tears.

I tell her that this is the water from the Jhanaa Dariaa. The river that lives in the hearts of those from and of Punjab. The river that will live in her heart one day. When it swells up, it pours itself through the eyes. I tell her of Izzat Beg becoming Mahiwaal and SohNi being let down by the unbaked pot in the waves.

The story and the song implants in her being.

She wants to listen to it over and over. She carries it over with her in the play area, to the car, to her bed. She keeps thinking about it. What would a four-year old be thinking?

On Thursday night, while listening to it, she broke down in tears. Her own Jhanaa had swelled up. What I was I thinking?

Until that Friday, when she comes home, in  peace. She had to re-write it. Through her red and brown pencils. Sohni is now safe. Liv becomes the Jhanaa and the ghaRaa and saves Sohni.

The Jhanaa now lives in both our hearts.

*   *   *   *   *

Mritunjay is not from this time. He is as old as the Jhanaa. You cannot pass him by. You cannot fall deeply enough in love with his soulful poetry rendered into music with a voice that vibrates one’s core.

He has recently released his latest album, “Bhorey dey Geet, Songs from the Basement.”

He has taken some very soul-touching Punjabi poetry (from the likes of Haribhajan Singh) and made them come alive in his voice. The songs will penetrate the toughest of shells. The work that shines though is the poetry that he has written himself. He plays with a limited number of words but their expanse will leave you swimming in your own Jhanaa.

More than this, I am out of words for his album that is a pure act of love. You have to touch it for yourself and help me put in words what his offering means to you.

Please listen to his entire album by CLICKING here.

And please support Mritunjay and send him the message that you want more by downloading his album.

You can download the album by CLICKING here.

I am eternally grateful to Amarjit ji for introducing me to this delight.


Gurmeet Kaur is the author and creator of “Fascinating Folktales of Punjab” (, the first such bilingual, illustrated folktale books for children.

August 24, 2015

Conversation about this article

1: Inni Kaur (Fairfield, Connecticut, USA), August 24, 2015, 5:22 PM.

Liv is blessed to connect with Chanaab so early in her life. It took me a while to connect with the Land of the Five Rivers. I now feel Channab. Chanaab lives in me as it will live in Liv's heart from hereon.

2: Yuktanand Singh  (Michigan, USA), August 25, 2015, 11:55 AM.

What a sad, rather depressing song! Truly sounds like a voice from the heart in a lone summer afternoon in Punjab, or maybe a winter night in Michigan? The listener can drift away. I enjoyed every word.

3: Kamal (India), August 27, 2015, 2:36 AM.

Heart touching ... Thanks to Mritunjay and Liv ... Sohni is safe because of your red and brown pencils of love for Chenab.

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