Chenab Speaks

The Wisdom of River Chenab

River Chenab is one of the five rivers of Panjab, now straddling two countries: India and Pakistan. Its journey starts in the Himalayas and it flows through Kashmir and into the plains of Panjab. It is an integral part of Panjabi literature and folklore, known as the River of Romance. Many of the timeless love epics of Panjab, including that of Sohni and Mahiwal, revolve around 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, The Moon
from a distance 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
and I ignited.
Fauna feared
the inferno.

The Moon whispered:
“Chenab, what has sparked this blaze?”

I could not reveal it;
I was ashamed.
I, the sinner
had dared to love
the saint.

Months flew by…
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
to never end
but that wasn’t meant to be.

Hell descended.
Heaven and earth roared.
How dare we be together?

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 who 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 my place.
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 in his realm
watching over her.
She is in hers
flowing for him.

Shehnaz sighs.
“Is this love?”

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