Folk Tales of Gujarat (and Jhaverchand Meghani)

by Vandana P. Soni | 2014 | 98,532 words

This study represents an English translation of the Gujarat Folk tales composed by Gujarati poet Jhaverchand Meghani (1896-1947). Meghani was born in Chotila and left an important landmark on the history of Saurashtra and Gujarat folklore, Indian poetry, journalism and other literary sciences....

Chapter 4 - Suhini-Mehar (Love stories of other regions)

[Author’s Note:-Love stories that are given in Sorathi folk literature, same type of tales are still available in oral folk literature of other regions. All these stories seem as golden chain uniting one region with another region. To find out the difference and similarities between the tales of this region and other regions here two tales have been given.]

‘Suhini–Mehar’ is one of the stories of Sindh. Duha cited in the story consist of three lines. So far as composition is considered both resemble with each other. Instead of our first line there are two lines. The problem of evoking feeling in two lines is solved in this way and even sentence construction does not get spoiled. Suhini-Mehar is the real story of folk life. The powerful philosopher and poet of Sindh named Abed Latif visualized spirituality in mortal events. Suhini stands for mortal human being and Mehar stands for God and husband of Suhini is Sayar which symbolizes this world-by creating such meaning the Poet, expresses soul’s longing for god and in Sindhi literature it is considered as the best type of work. It is very good that in folk tales such spiritual and metaphoric tone is observed.]

At the bank of the river Sindhu, buffaloes were grazing among tall waist length grass and the young shepherd was playing flute by sitting under the canopy of trees. His real name was Sahad.

There was no idea from where he had come and who his parents were. People of the village called him by the name ‘Mehar’. Me-Har means shepherd of buffaloes[note]. The young daughter of Tolo potter named Suhini was taunting him many a time by calling him an orphan. Mehar even liked the curt remarks of the girl.

Tossing one neatly cleaned shining pot in her hand, Suhini came one afternoon at the Coast of Sindhu River. She loudly called Mehar who was enjoying melodies of flute as: “Mehar! Meharda!”

At least for two minutes, Mehar did not pay heed. He was so much engrossed in playing a flute that he became inattentive. Suhini held his legs which were dangling down the branch of a tree; he became conscious as soon as his legs were pulled. Suhini said: “Are you coming down? Or do I make you fall by pulling you down?”

Mehar felt shy. He jumped down. As if some fool wanted to play a role of a Shephered, similarly in a dignified and threatening way he said, “During this day light, why have you come to trouble me?”

“At home, guests have come, so quickly milk your buffaloes and give two three streaks of milk.”

“But buffaloes have gone very far, now you go and bring them back.”

“I would remain hungry throughout the night if I the daughter of Patel have to go ever to bring back buffaloes. Whether my father has employed you to worship you by making you sit on the pallet. You go and bring buffaloes back; otherwise you would not get dinner.”

Mehar looked everywhere, but buffaloes had disappeared in the long grown grass.

Suhini said, “Emit typical sound of calling animals then soon all will come out.”

Mehare scratched his head and remained standing there: “I do not know how to emit sound to call buffaloes.”

“It is very shameful Meharda! If you did not know how to emit sound for calling cattle then why did you become care taker of buffaloes? You should die with shame!”

By saying so, Suhini by putting fingers in her ears emitted loud, melodious sound,it was so loud that its echo reached to the another border of a field; within a fraction of minute buffaloes came out running and bellowing.

“Now, you start milking.” Mehar stood abashed.

Suhini said, “Shame, shame, as a shepherd if you do not know how to milk the buffaloes then your whole life has gone waste.”

Suhini milked her loving buffaloes, just by shedding one streak of milk her pot brimmed over and foam of buffaloes‘milk raised. By putting pot on head, Suhini walked away in gay and carefree mood. While walking she kept on saying, “Foolish Mehardo, silly Mehardo who neither knows how to milk buffaloes nor learnt the skill of emitting sound for calling cattle.”

The loud call of that bold and a tall virgin of Sindhi potter, swish of her laughter and thud of her walk showcasing her power had surpised the foreigner named Mehar who was left immobile. Every time Suhini, seemed sweet to Mehar and whenever she reviled him he experienced pleasurable and rejuvenating feeling.

Many a times Suhini felt pity on Mehar, because he was committing many mistakes in carrying out his responsibilities as a shepherd. Suhini’s soft corner for Mehar vexed her father potter Tolo. Hateful and insulting remarks of the master often depressed Mehar and he frequently felt helplessness and on seeing it Suhini secretly made many efforts to decrease his grief and elevate his mood.

Father noticed everything and took it for granted that her daughter was very compassionate by nature, so she took very much care of Mehar. How could an owner of 400 asses and 1500 buffaloes ever imagine that his only one beloved daughter was in love with that unskilled shepherd?

One day Mehar was sitting on the bank of river Sindhu. Tolo potter hauled over the coals on him, as his five asses were lost. Flickers of repentance were seen on the face of Mehar.

At that time he heard sound of steps of Suhini’s arrival. On arriving, Suhini soon spoke:

“See how you were rebuked? Still you are senseless.”

On being admonished, tears rolled down the cheek of Mehar. Suhini understood that there must be some matter, otherwise this shepherd would never cry. She held him by wrist and asked, “Mehar, why did you cry? Could Mehar be ever weak?”

“Suhini, I have cheated you. I am not ‘Mehar’ (a caretaker of buffaloes).”

“Stupid, if you are not Mehar then, are you an emperor?”

“I am not an emperor, but I have received all pampering that is generally received by an emperor; I am son of a wealthy man.”

“Whose son are you?”

“What is the meaning of telling everything today?”

“No, please Mehar, if you do not tell me today then it is Suhini’s swearing to you.

what will you do by hiding this fraud?‖

“Then, listen Suhini, I am not a Sindhi, I am a Mughal of Bukhara. I am a foreigner.

My father’s name is Mirza Ali Beg. At my house prosperity wallows. When my father was of 75 years, in his old age I was born due to blessings of one devotee.

Suhini, I am not an illiterate shepherd but after studying many books under the guidance of the learned, I came to visit Mughal emperors of India. During that journey my destiny brought me here. One evening we stayed in Musafarkhana.

At your father’s house, I saw you coming there to bring clay’s crockery. On seeing you I fell in love with you at first sight. My lovable companion tried to prohibit me but I did not agree with him. My diamonds were stolen, whatever cash amount I had that was spent. My comrade fell down and died in Bukhar, my swift camel was also stolen. Being ruined in your love I became Mehar of Sindh. I am taking your father’s asses to pasture.‖

By concealing her surprise, Suhini chided him, “Do you have regret regarding that matter, Mehar? If you want to go to wallow in wealth and enjoy fondling at your father’s house, then you can happily go; I would unlock doors of your cage.”

“No, where should I go? Birds of forest would not accept this caged bird. Now I want to make my tomb here at the bank of Sindhu.”

“Then, why did you bring tears in eyes?”

The news reached to potter Tola that every day in the afternoon Suhini and Mehar meet at the bank of the river Sindhu, under the shade of a dense banyan tree.

Gradually the information reached that by changing their time of meeting in the afternoon they started to meet in the darkness of late night; and continued their talk of love so slowly that even sleeping birds could not hear it.

Next day in the morning, Tolo snatched the stick for driving out ass and buffaloes from the hand of Mehar and said, “If you ever put your leg within the territory of Sadapur, then I would kill you and would make Suhini bathe with your blood. You ungrateful, gate out.”

On the opposite side of the bank of the river Sindhu, Mehar built one hut. The whole day he kept singing songs of Irani, Arbi and Sindhi poets. This lover without taking single morsel of food or water used to play flute and during night he used to prepare one fish by frying it. At midnight by carrying the cooked fish on his head and by tying cloth around the waist, he used to plunge into unfathomable water of Sindhu. The force of the water was so heavy that even elephant may get drowned in such a force; without keeping fear of darkness, animals or any human beings he used to leap and swim in the water like a crocodile. He used to reach at another shore by crossing a half kilometer in water.

At the bank of another shore, Suhini used to pull him out by holding his palm. Everyday after sitting under the same banyan tree both used to make the feast of fish. By spending three hours together for love, once again Mehar used to reach at his hut by crossing the wide flow of water.

Thus they spent many nights together. Mehar did not miss a single night. Even stormy wind of Sindhu River could not stop Mehar from going to another bank of river.

One night, the fish that Mehar brought was extremely sweet. Suhini appreciated the sweetness of the fish while taking each bite of it. “Oh, Mehar fish is very sweet. It would be very good if you bring this type of fish every day.”

Mehar smiled and said, “Ok, I would bring it every day. But after few days if the one who brings fish would remain no more then what will you do?”

They talked but signs of pain were obivious on the face of Mehar. It seemed that with a great effort he was suppressing some pain.

Suhini asked, “Dear, is anything wrong with you?”

“Nothing is wrong, you continue your talk.”

Soon Suhini who was sitting in the lap of Mehar, felt something wet. Surprisingly she asked, “From where this water has come?”

Suddenly her eyes fell on the thigh of Mehar; blood was flowing out of it.

“Suhini, this is the blood of a sweet fish.”

Now Suhini understood the mystery of the whole matter. As Mehar did not find any fish he by cut flesh from his thigh and brought it by frying it and made it spicy.

“Mehar, I give you god’s swear from tomorrow onwards, my turn will start. You will not come.”

“Then, will you come?“

“Yes, I will come.”

“You are a woman; will you cross the river Sindhu? Are you mad Suhini?”

“That will be decided at night tomorrow. I give you god’s swear you will not come.”

Bare kunn batrya tad, tad tad hetbhatuu,
Adhiy ratjo uthi, (se) Suhini kar sattu,
Chhade khir khatu, lunde lori vichhme.

[In the river Sindhu, between two banks, there were twelve whirlpools of water, there were thirty two big hills and at the bottom of every hill, their lived a many scorpions. To cross such a horrible river, by getting up at midnight Suhini used to run out of home in the dark night. Discarding sweet milk and cozy bed Suhini was whirling amidst waves of water.]

“Woman, who are you?”

“I am a traveler.”

“Who are you Suhini?”

“Yes, are you Aleyo?”

“Yes, where are you travelling at midnight?”

“I am going to another coast of river Sindhu.”

“Oh, Suhini, you are child, what strength you have to travel at the other bank of the river Sindhu?”

“Brother Aleya, God would give me the strength. I have taken one clay pot to swim.”

“For whom, are taking so much trouble?”

“I am doing for my love.”

“Oh my God, Suhini, people are criticizing you and you do not care for it.”

“Oh, Adha, listen-

Adha sun tu aliya, Ala sune acchar,
Hirdi ghar ghar gila thiye, pade pandh pachhar,
Av likhiyo ti lodiya, khalk mideti khvar
.

[“Dear brother Aliya, only God could see and understand my thoughts. So let the criticism regarding me nay continue that is going in my neighbourhood, in my area or in every home. I am suffering from whatever is written in my fate. People are hurting me by criticizing me without any reason.”]

“Oh, Suhini” Alleyo said:

Sari na thiye Suhini, tu niji nimani,
Vendhe vahvat visre, hi jor juvani,
Se pachhadi de Pani, tara kaviye tarme.

[“You have not turned out to be good in your lineage. You are childish, senseless and weak. In this strong flow of water you might lose your young life. By throwing yourself in water one day you may invite a big trouble. You may drown into water. So please, avoid it. Why are you taking so much trouble? Who have shown you ways towards death?” ]

After hearing all these advice, Suhini laughed roaringly and became ready to jump into water.

Dhiri dharo hath kare, chel badhi chhoto,
Man midyu’s miyar se, parle par poto,
Po gotte, manj gotto, are m vize ajanme.

[“By taking a clay pot she wedged into water. She tied tightly one cloth on head and waist. As she was preparing at the bank of the river to jump into water, mentally she had already reached at the bank of the river to meet her beloved. As her loved one does not remain unaware that she was coming, she made fast diving to cross the river and reached ashore”]

She was wearing armour of Love. Now she was fearless. In comparison of her love all dangerous insects and creatures seemed dwarfish. One by one night started to pass.

It was chill cold. Nobody could come out of the house. All snugged themselves in warm quilt. There was quietness during night. During that time Suhini went out of home by carrying pot on her head. On seeing her, wise man like Aleyo tried to stop Suhini, ―Oh, Suhini why are you going to die in this shivering cold?

Suhini replied him:

Hikadiyu na dhire unhare, av sare siyare,
Tan vinjati tar me, orhaje are,
Mahobbat ti mare, (nat) ker dhir hin kunme.

[“Dear brother, other women avoid going into this water even in scorching heat; and I am swimming willingly in water in this chill winter. I take the risk of death, because my Love corrodes me. Otherwise who would dare to jump into this whirlpool?”]

“O, Suhini, you do not dive into water, because in hollow part of stones, poisonous snake resides and they would bite you.”

Bara kuun Batriya, tad, tad tad heth nag
Mahanu mulajo Kari, tit mahobbat Jo mang
Kedo muhjo sang,(judo) panita pachhi vara

[“In my ways, 12 whirlpools of water pools and 32 rocks are there. In hollow part, there are poisonous snake. I know everything but the way, on which other hesitates to walk, that is the way of love. If I retreat by getting frightened then there is no significance my love.”]

On saying so, Suhini tied clothes and she dived into cool water of Sindhu and went very far. The shore of the river Sindhu was so far, that the sound of her swimming became inaudible to the advisor and he went home again.

Winter passed, summer passed but these lovers did not skip a single day of going from one shore to another shore in order to meet each others during nocturnal hours.

Monsoon began and Sindhu overflowed with water; waves were tossing very high. It became very easy for Suhini to plunge into water during horrendous storm the sight of which may terrify onlooker.

As she came by carrying pot; soon man standing beside her spoke:

Suni sathe tar me, (to) Siyaro ne see,
Lagi lehar leharte, se juddha kare jee,
Thoda virmi thi, mather par to kunn kare.

[“Oh, Suhini, why are you plunging into water in this biting cold? Waves that are clashing against each other are strong enough to deunite your soul and body and furthermore the rock above your head is about to fall, so you please stop.” ]

“Oh Addha, how could I stop even for few moments? If time of meeting my beloved may pass then my soul mate would writhe in pain.”

On saying so, Suhini jumped into huge waves of water. Like a fish she moved swiftly into water. Everytime she spent six hours happily with her beloved and returned on preceding night.

Father of Suhini being worried about his prestige got Suhini married with an ugly man belonging to high lineage of potter community. At the time of marriage Suhini in the presence of all expressed her disagreement regarding marriage. In spite of that, her father got her forcefully married with that boy. Suhini did not go to her in-laws‘house, so her father kept the boy at his own house.

On the first night, Suhini warned her husband that, “You are my brother. Never come near my bed.” Suhini gave up all relations with relatives. She did not feel good in the company of worldly people. She decreased her communication with world. Her time passed in offering prayers five (according to Islamic schedule) times a day, in reading Kuran, and she spent time in keeping fasts during Ramjan. She dedicated all her nights to her beloved who was residing at the shore of Sindhu.

All these things were not tolerated by a married potter. He taunted Suhini in a offending way.

She ponders when she becomes alone:

Nain a namaju pade, gandh na gandhiyu dhoy
Sanje miz sumthi, (se)pasa fere poy
,
Uthi adhiy ratjo, (ee)kuniy karan roy
Kadva ven kasala, ee makhe ne to choy
Edi kandh sandhay, (tade) var chhadeti van tara
.

[“My husband does not even offer his namaj. He does not even clean odor of his body. He sleeps early in the evening and in the morning keeps changing sides in bed, at midnight a man who weeps for food, how such type of man could disdain me? Why I am related to such a man? By leaving such a man I would prefer to get flowed away in water.”]

In this way day by day tormentation by husband and people’s act of defaming her increased. Even parents felt that it would be proper if Suhini may die. In reality the death of Suhini came close.

Night was dark, but alike the month of vaisakh, the month of union and meeting was going on. As sail of ship get inflated with wind similarly sky colored odhani of Suhini inflated with wind, as if God endowed two wings to Suhini to fly at the another shore of Sindhu. The river Sindhu was raising high as if excited to play with Suhini and stars of the sky were looking intently at Suhini.

Standing at the bank of river Suhini looked in every direction. Today there was no storm. Such a night never came earlier. Today Nature was in Suhini’s favour. It seemed that Suhini who was rejected by world was respected by deities.

By tying cloth Suhini nose-dived into water. On saying, Khamma! Khamma! Waves of Sindhu caught her feather light. By supporting her face on a painted pot Suhini started to swim; today water and breeze seemed so delightful that she felt to swim continuously into it. She felt to frighten Mehar by making late. She wished that Mehar might join her in swimming so that by holding each others‘hand they merge into the sea forever. She felt to go into the region which is beyond cynicism and maladies of world. She thought that whatever may happen she would not come out of water, she planned of calling Mehar by remaining in the river; she felt if she would come out she would be tempted to live on the mortal land.

Suhini was lost in such types of thoughts; then suddenly the pot slipped from her hand. Why the clay of this pot is getting scattered by being damped? Who made an enchantment in my strong earthen pot?

Hajarn me hikdo, mu thoke khayam te te tha,
Kachjo kumbhar mu, ki n kyo te kalam
Dhani lag dham, tu maula man mediye
.

After checking for several times, I had selected this pot out of thousand pots. Even the potter did not give me any hint that pot was raw, and then how come pot turned out crude. Oh, god now you please unite me with my soul mate.

As soon as she thought, immediately the pot melted into water. The clay did not remain in hands of a struggling Suhini. She knew swimming very well but due to her plan of deluding Mehar right from the beginning Suhini was floating so slowly that the opposite shore remained very far.

She got exhausted and she wondered what magic had worked in the pot.

Hajarnme hikdo, mu chitamay chay,
Wah me wali davad chey, pithu thyo se pay
,
Supak kyo mu say, kaja te kaccho kyo?

[From thousand ready earthen pots, I had selected one strong pot. On it I got it made minute carvings. How the pot could broke into flood? The pot which I called strong was made frail by my fortune. ]

What happened? Many months passed and why only today my pot has melted down? The pot was changed. The parents of Suhini in order to fulfill their ill-will of getting their daughter drowned had exchanged the pot and placed another raw pot of same carvings. Inoccent and ignorant Suhini was so blinded by love that without understanding shrewdness of worldy people, as usual picked up the pot from the same place without checking it and jumped into water.

Helpless Suhini struggled to cover mileages in water but there remained no strength in her arms. It was so dark, that neither Suhini could see anything across the opposite shore, nor anyone from the opposite shore could trace Suhini. Cattle were grazing at another shore. Sound of their harness bell was audible to her and another sound that was audible to her was melodious sound of flute of Mehar.

Kithe ghant vajan? Kithe piriyu par?
Veer vajayto vansli, sahad saji rat
,
Kalmeji tavar, lori sambhe langhiyu.

[Oh, where the bells ring? The shore of my beloved has remained very far. My valiant Sahad, shepherd [Mehar] while waiting for me seems playing flute throughout the night. On the basis of the sound of flute I tracked my path and crossed many waves but now there was no longer remained vigor in my hands and legs.]

The sound of the flute seemed very sweet to Suhini, Suhini did not like to create any type of obstruction in the melody; but at last her body became ready to go down into water graveyard. Suhini was dragged by waves; while being dragged she made heart rending cry; ‘Mehar, Mehar.’

On hearing Suhini’s yellings, the sounds of flute stopped. He dived into water from the opposite shore by saying; “I would reach, I am coming.”

Drowning and panting Suhini shouted first for help then she repented. She recollected suddenly that while serving sweet meat to Suhini, Mehar’s thigh was bruised. Its wound was not healed yet. She thought, surely Mehar could not swim and if he would do so then he would loose his life for my sake.

Gharo bhago t goreo, shal ma bhaje dhari,
Mulato mearjo, bhiji thyo ay bhari,
Tango tar tari, man disa muh myar jo.

[Ok, if the pot has broken then let it go but oh god, now do not break my moments of encountering my beloved. Mehar is at the opposite side; his turban might be weighing highby getting wet. Now, whether water is deep or shallow whatever it is please god you help me that at least I could see the face of Mehar.]

It was not destined for her to see his face. It was created in her destiny to sleep alone on the water bed. Fatigued and weak woman started to feel vertigo in the middle of waves of Sindhu.

Akhi me ajrayal ditho, (tay) man tane to myar kya

[She saw with her own eyes, the god of Death. In spite of that her heart rushed towards Mehar.]

Dhiri dharo hath kare, boya ee baw,
Vechariye wadiyu kiyu, vicch dhariya dhaw
,
Varaj sad, pav, taku taki ahiya
.

[First she moved through water by holding the pot, later on when it broke, she swam with the help of her two hands; while drowning into sea (vast river), the poor woman shouted Mehar you please go back because I have been surrounded by wild animals.]

“Do not come, Mehar, you do not come.” Such types of last loud cries were heard. But, now for whose sake Mehar may return back? He dived into water for several times, he searched her in many valleys, hunted many rocks but he could not trace Suhini.

His wounded thigh worsened and blood flowed out from cracks. Again and again till the last moments his empty body kept shouting, ‘Suhini, Suhini’, finally he went down at the bottom of river in an eternal search of Suhini.

In the morning, Mother Sindhu dropped out drowned bodies of both togather at the shore. Family members gathered there and built tomb by burying them and gave tribute to them by offering flowers.

Even today the tomb exists at the extremity of the village Sadapur.

[Folk Research Scholar, late Jivram Ajramar Gor‘collections of duhas in folktales Of Kuttch published in (‘Gujarati’: Diwali edition, 1911) has been used as the Source for the theme and for the three lined Sindhi duhas used in this tale. In the present duhas I found many errors which are corrected by the Sindhi principal of Shamaldas College, shree, Sahaniji. He corrected by selecting very carefully from the book of Muslim Saint Abd Latif. Principal Sahani opined that the actual Sindhi text remains crude in these verses.]—(Meghani)

[Even today in Charni Gujarati the word ‘Meyu’ is used for buffaloes.]

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