Published Us Magazine, The News. On 20th April, 2007.
Regardless of the form, love has always been an imperative constituent of human personality. This article presents some of the greatest love legends of all times. Though masses do refer to them as the examples of pure and flawless love, very few know their reality. And therefore, you will find the actual stories in this article with a twist. It should be very clear that the writer is not in any case criticizing or caricaturing them, but reflecting his own point of view and interpretation of these stories. So just go through them and enjoy.
Romeo and Juliet:
Let’s start with the west, which, of course means the evergreen Romeo and Juliet. Unlike the majority of love stories, the hero and heroine share the same background. As the story starts, we meet Romeo, our hero, love sick for Rosaline. (A different start, I appreciate). Later, at a party, Romeo’s heart does a somersault as he sees Juliet for the first time. Eventually, both the characters meet each other and the journey of their love starts. Soon they figure out that the families they both belong to – the Montague family and the Capulet family – are sworn enemies of each other. (Whoa… Imagine a love story without villains… not happening!). Our friends, not letting the circumstances thwart their love, marry secretly. In the meantime, Juliet’s father arranges her marriage with Paris. Juliet’s behaviour is always wicked towards Paris. Romeo’s friend, Friar Laurence, concocts a scheme to allow Romeo to take Juliet away. Following the plan, Juliet takes some sleeping pills. Her family thinks that Juliet is dead. A letter is also sent to Romeo acquainting him with the plan, but the letter couldn’t reach him on time. Romeo comes and sees Juliet dead, takes poison and dies on the spot. When Juliet comes out of stupour, and sees her love lying dead, she also ends her life. So, we conclude that this affair was more of a tragedy than love. The storyline got real momentum owing to Shakespeare’s dramatic and philosophical way of writing. Therefore, the credit shouldn’t go to Romeo and Juliet’s love, but to Shakespeare. This couple gets 7 out of a 10 score.
The story is very popular. As Prince Jehangir (Saleem) returns home after some military campaigns, he beholds a new maiden, Anarkali, in his palace, and promptly falls in love with her. Being a Mughal prince, and a crown prince at that, how can one expect him to be content with just one paramour? So we find the existence of another fame fatale in Jehangir’s life. The thrill starts after Dilaram, the jilted lover of the prince, reports the affair to the king, who opposes. Jehangir rebels against his father, and a sort of a fight breaks out. Anarkali is imprisoned, and eventually she is walled alive. In story the infatuation on both sides is understandable. Anarkali was a maiden, and bound to lose control of her emotions at the overtures from the crown prince of Hindustan. Jehangir’s behaviour was also natural, as all kings and princes have a tendency to fall in love with all beautiful girls. And being a young fire-eater, Jehangir had to show his power, come on! Later on, Jehangir married Noor Jahan and their love affair gained more popularity. An interesting fact is Jehangir didn’t let his own son Shahjahan (Remember? The Taj Mahal fame?) to marry the beautiful Arjumand Banu Begum (Mumtaz Mahal). You should have thought about your times, Saleem! Therefore, Jahangir’s love doesn’t come out to be the ideal one (if it was love) and doesn’t deserve to be considered a love legend. This affair gets 4 points.
The first part of this well-known love story, by the famous Waris Shah, doesn’t sound new. It’s the same old tale… the heroine being the daughter of a feudal land lord and astonishingly stunning, and the hero, a poor lad who is an expert in playing ‘wanjali’. Heer gets impressed by his dexterity and falls in love with him. In one of their furtive meetings, Kaido, Heer’s uncle, catches them! Well, the after-effects are quite easy to predict. Heer’s parents arrange her marriage with another man named Saida Khero, while Ranjha being unable to withstand the terrible grief, makes his way to some deserted place. Somehow, Ranjha again gets to meet Heer and they both escape. As a consequence of this very act, Heer’s parents agree to her marriage with Ranjha. But perhaps to add a twist, or more probably fire to the story, uncle Kaido being envious, mixes poison in Heer’s milk. Ranjha couldn’t stand her beloved’s loss once again and dies on the grave of Heer. It might be acclaimed as a marvelous masterpiece, but the story lacks element of reality and excitement. They both sacrificed all their previous relations to make a new one, and were in turn deceived by their elders too. They get 8 out of 10 marks.
Coming to another Punjabi folk-tale, Sohnie is the daughter of a potter called Tula. She decorated her father’s handmade pots. Mahiwal, formerly known as Izzat Baig, is a very rich trader. The first sight of Sohnie casts a magnificent spell on him (as usual…) and he starts buying those pots and stuff just to catch some glimpses of Sohnie. Soon, Sohnie also falls for him! (Is it really that easy?!) Then the news of their love spread and Tula arranges Sohnie’s marriage with another potter. (Why don’t these oldies try something new?) Our Miss Beautiful then starts her new life, but as love cannot be undone, so instead of crushing and swallowing her bangles, she turns out to be practical. Guess what she thinks of? An extra-marital affair! Therefore, both of them start meeting daily. Every night, Mahiwal swims across the river to meet Sohnie and cook a fish for her. (Hmm, that’s why Sohnie was so interested in meeting him, it was the fish!) It is said that one night, when Mahiwal was unable to grab any fish, he cuts a piece of his thigh and cooks it for Sohnie. Sohnie sees the bandage, removes it and comes to know she is cheated of her daily fish fiesta. Then she cries and decides that from then onwards, she’d cross the river instead of Mahiwal. One night, her sister-in-law follows her and learns about her treachery. She replaces Sohnie’s pitcher with a poorly baked one. (She didn’t know swimming, of course. Instead of tubes, she used pitchers). As Sohnie starts her journey across the river, her pitcher dissolves in water and she drowns. Mahiwal also jumps in when he sees the water taking his love away, and drowns as well. These two seem to lack and morals and ethics, and there’s no way we are going to over-look the extra-marital affair. So, the score of Sohnie Mahiwal is 6 out of 10.
Moving on from the Punjabi legends, let’s meet our Sindhi lovebirds. Here is our girl Sassi, the daughter of a Hindu Raja. A Hindu magician tells the Raja that his daughter would bring immense disrepute to them, and she would marry a Muslim boy on growing up. As the Raja comes to know the fact, he orders his daughter, Sassi, to be killed. (An ideal father!) Sassi’s mother, helpless because of her love for Sassi, thinks of a scheme. She puts Sassi in a wooden box and gifts her to the river, letting the Raja believe that Sassi has been killed. In the meanwhile, a Muslim washer-man and his wife, who are childless, get hold of that box and start nurturing the child. Years later, when she grows to become a beautiful girl (you must have expected that!) enters Punno., another Raja of some area in Sindh, and they both fall in love. In this case, it’s the boy’s family that doesn’t want a lower-class girl to be a part of them. However, after some clashes the brothers of the hero agree to their marriage and consequently they get married. (Fireworks! We just got our first officially married couple on the list). The brothers, who are in fact the villains, have a great surprise for the couple on their wedding night. Sleeping pills are mixed in the milk for the bridal couple. On drinking the poisoned milk, both of them lose their consciousness. On regaining his senses, Punno finds himself in the desert of Thal, while Sassi also finds herself in a desert. Both of them start running across the desert in the hopes of finding each other. On the way, some goons start chasing Sassi. As they draw nearer, Sassi prays to Allah to open up the earth and take her in. Her prayers are answered and the sand takes Sassi in, leaving behind some portion of her veil visible. Eventually, Punno comes here and dies of shock, as he recognizes the veil. These unfortunate beings score the maximum on our list, a whooping 9.
With this we come to the end of our love stories, but history tells us love never ends!