Wild Court

An international poetry journal based in the English Department of King’s College London

‘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.