Love Stories of the Risalo of Shah Latif

Sur Suhni

This story dates back to the time when the Moghul Emperor, Shah Jahan ruled over Delhi. There was a wealthy potter named Tala, in Gujarat (a village in the Punjab), who had a beautiful daughter named Mahi (Suhni – the beautiful). About that time a handsome youth named Izzat Beg (Mehaar), son of a merchant of Bukhara, had started on his Indian tour, and visited Lahore and Delhi, buying and selling merchandise. He chanced to pass through the village of Gujarat and fell madly in love with the potter’s daughter. So he stayed back indefinitely and forgot his home and profession.

He used to visit the potter’s house constantly on the pretext of buying the pots, and so oblivious was he of his financial state that in a short time he converted all his wealth into pottery. His home was now full of pots of all sized and shapes. Very soon he was obliged to open a shop and turn potseller to support himself.

But his heart being with Suhni, he could not attend to retailing earthenware and shop was closed and Izzat Beg came under the employment of Tala, whose daughter he loved. First they put him to knead the clay.

Then they gave him a herd of buffaloes to graze, which he did as a labour of love. At last one evening chance brought him face to face with the beloved, to whom he then confessed his feelings. Suhni was struck with his devotion towards her, and she gave her heart to her father’s servant. They met secretly thereafter but not for long.

The girl’s parents suspected the attachment and summarily dismissed the cattle grazer who dared to love their daughter.

As for the daughter, she was speedily married to a neighbour’s son. Unhappy Suhni spurned her hateful husband’s advances and refused all food and drink. She lived in perpetual mourning so that even her husband soon grew tired of her. Meanwhile Suhni communicated with her lover through a friend.

Unhappy Izzat Beg wandered about for some time and established himself in a cottage on the other side of the river Chenab. Even when oceans divide, love can stem the tide and so every night the Bukhara youth would swim across the river and meet his beloved. After a time, however, he received a wound in the side, and so could not move out of bed. Thus Suhni left her house at night to swim across the river on an earthen jar, and meet her sick lover.

This continued for some time, but it was not to be. Suhni’s sister-in-law discovered these secret meetings and also observed that Suhni after returning from her lover, always hid her jar under a heap of grass. So one night, she treacherously removed her jar and substituted in its place, another one of sun-baked clay. The next night Suhni as usual, took her jar, and entered the stream. Soon after, as the kacha (unbaked) jar could not stand water, it broke and poor Suhni was cast upon the waves. Bitter was her wailing and loud her cries. She called to her Mehaar to come to her rescue but all in vain. A short while after, as Suhni was grappling with the waves, Mehaar learnt of her danger and went to her aid, but the poot potter-girl was already buried in her watery grave.

Thereupon Mehaar, too, jumped into the river and the two were thus united in death

(Taken from Agha M. Yaqoob’s 3 volume translation of the Risalo with minor editing by Naveed Siraj)

Leave a Reply