Mirza Sahiban

My retelling of the Punjabi Folktale Mirza Sahiban, previously posted to the Non Stop Bhangra blog.


For Love, by Marcus Murray
For Love, by Marcus Murray, acrylic on canvas
Photo courtesy of Non Stop Bhangra

During the time of the Emperor Akbar the Great, in the land between the rivers of Ravi and Chenab (now part of Pakistan), there were two villages, Khewa and Danabad. Mahni Khan was the chief of Khewa, and also of his clan, the Sayyal. Sahiban was his daughter. Fateh Bibi, Mahni’s “milk sister” (they were both nursed by Bibi’s mother as babies, because Mahni’s mother had died; and so they were considered siblings), lived in Danabad, where she had married into the Kharral clan. Fateh Bibi’s son was Mirza.

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The Legend of Dulla Bhatti

This was originally posted to the Non Stop Bhangra blog, in celebration of Lohri, the Punjabi winter solstice festival.

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Ever wonder where the customs of Lohri – the bonfire, the singing and dancing, the sweets — come from? There are many different stories, and here’s one: the story of Dulla Bhatti.

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Imani’s Venture

My retelling of a woman-positive fairy tale from Punjab, originally posted at the Dholrhythms blog.


Imani’s Venture

Once upon a time there lived a king with two beloved daughters, Kupti and Imani, whom he loved very much. He spent many hours of the day talking to them. One day he asked his older daughter Kupti:

“Are you content to leave your life and fortune in my hands?”

“Of course,” said Kupti. “Who else would I leave them to?”

But when he asked his younger daughter, Imani, she said:

“Oh no! I’d rather go out and make my own fortune!”

The king was a bit displeased to hear this, but he said, “Well, if that is what you want, that’s what you’ll get.”

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The Legend of Sohni Mahiwal

My retelling of Sohni Mahiwal, originally posted at the Dholrhythms blog.

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Once upon a time, on the banks of the river Chenab, near the city of Gujrat, lived a potter named Tulla. Tulla’a pottery was famous, and in demand all through Punjab, and even in lands beyond. Tulla had a daughter who was so lovely that he and his wife named her Sohni (“Beautiful”).

Since Sohni grew up in her father’s shop, she learned how to decorate the pitchers and pots that came off his wheel with beautiful designs: flowers and elaborate patterns. And so the family flourished.

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Curious, If True

Curious, If True
by Elizabeth Gaskell (1860)

800px Illustration for Acknowledgment to The Year s at the Spring

(Extract from a letter from Richard Whittingham, Esq.)

You were formerly so much amused at my pride in my descent from that sister of Calvin’s, who married a Whittingham, Dean of Durham, that I doubt if you will be able to enter into the regard for my distinguished relation that has led me to France, in order to examine registers and archives, which, I thought, might enable me to discover collateral descendants of the great reformer, with whom I might call cousins. I shall not tell you of my troubles and adventures in this research; you are not worthy to hear of them; but something so curious befell me one evening last August, that if I had not been perfectly certain I was wide awake, I might have taken it for a dream.

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Dreams of the Hotel Exeter: Room 436

Bancroft Hotel

The Hotel Exeter, established 1913 in Utica, New York. If you listen, she’ll share some of her memories — maybe not quite the way you expect.

When a building dreams, it dreams through you.


It took four attempts with her card key before Rachel got the door open. She stumbled into the room, tipsy from the unaccustomed two manhattans and feeling slightly embarrassed about her evening’s behavior. Flirting with another conference attendee! Letting him buy her drinks! Good thing tomorrow would be the last day of the conference.

The conversation had been mostly shop talk — hadn’t it? But not entirely. At least she’d had the sense not to prattle on about how “Young Alex” (that’s what she called him in her mind) was probably about her son’s age. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to run into him tomorrow or not. What if he thought she was some horny cougar?

As she removed her makeup, she scrutinized her reflection. Not too bad: only faint crow’s feet at the eyes; her chin and the skin at her throat were still firm. Her tummy was reasonably flat; her graying hair colored a natural-looking chestnut brown.

“MILF,” she said to the mirror, and giggled.

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Dreams of the Hotel Exeter: Room 733

Bancroft Hotel

The Hotel Exeter, established 1913 in Utica, New York. So many things have happened in her rooms. Sometimes, she’ll tell you about them — in her own way.

When a building dreams, it dreams through you.


As Jeff waited for the tub to fill, he cracked open the bottle of Johnny Walker from the courtesy fridge. Why not? He was on expense account. Bottle in hand, he walked back to the bathroom and poured in the packet of bath salts, sipping his whiskey as the flowery, citrusy smell filled the space.The other guys in Sales might laugh if they knew, but a hot bath was Jeff’s victory ritual.

And this one was well deserved; the VP had driven a hard bargain. These small-time companies in out-of-the-way cities were always the hardest: they squeezed all they could from every dollar.

But in the end, the VP had signed. Jeff took a last swig from the bottle, then undressed and got into the tub. The bubbles and foam crackled softly, comfortingly. He closed his eyes and let the warmth seep through his skin….

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