‘Swimming’ – a poem by Rupinder Kaur




Jaan to meri jaan, my life.
The ghosts of language sit at the tip of my tongue
and sing meri jaan.

There’s a tale about two lovers, Sohni and Mahiwal.
Sohni the daughter of potter Tulla and Izzat Baig of Bukhara
a trader who became a buffalo herder known as Mahiwal.
The two fell in love but like all the love tales of Panjab
this too had a tragic end. Sohni got married to someone else
but she still loved Mahiwal. She’d swim across river Chenab
using a pitcher to meet Mahiwal.

One night her sister-in-law caught Sohni,
and decided to teach her a lesson.
As Sohni began to swim her pitcher started to dissolve.
Crying and begging to her pitcher she sang:
mainu paar langa de ve… but the pitcher didn’t listen.
Mahiwal heard her cries, and jumped in.
The two drowned in love calling each other jaan.

He sang meri jaan
I thought I was drowning
like the love in my blood
but I learnt to swim
when he lied, called me his jaan
and left.


Rupinder Kaur

About Rupinder Kaur

Rupinder Kaur is a Panjabi, Birmingham-based poet, writer and performer. Her work explores womanhood, language and history. Her debut poetry book 'Rooh' (2018) was published with Verve Poetry Press. She is currently working on her next poetry collection with a DYCP grant from the Arts Council and is currently a BBC new creative. Her website is at www.rupinderkw.com