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Izzat and Mehruk



Mehruk, the daughter of Saalik, was born in the Pirdhan valley of Sarbaz, Iran. She was bestowed upon her parents after years of prayers to Allah and vows to the saints. Her actual name was Mehr Hathoon or Mehr Khatoon (some writers also mention her name as Mehrbano). On the day, when Mehruk was born, everyone in Pirdhan was told not to ignite stoves at their homes. Though Salik wanted his first child to be a boy, he was overjoyed when Mehruk, a sweet princess-like baby girl arrived. Despite his earlier wish, he and everyone else were happy to have her. They saw her as a precious angel in their lives. Even though things didn’t go exactly as planned but their hearts were full of love and happiness because of her. Mehruk was renowned for being the epitome of beauty and perfection; her beauty touched many hearts, and tales praising her beauty became famous across the region.


Men of the region were bewitched by her glamour. Among them, Mullah Fazul, a poet and resident of Makran, Balochistan, became captivated by Mehruk’s beauty. He was so fascinated and deeply immersed in her beauty that he used her name as a metaphor for love in his poetry without ever seeing her in person. Mullah Fazul left no gathering without mentioning Mehruk. He immortalized her beauty in verses that became the very heartbeat of Baloch history and literature. His poetry, like a sacred relic, carried the essence of Mehruk’s beauty – echoing through the ages.


One day Mullah Fazul along with his friend Mullah Bohair decided to visit Pirdhan and see Mehruk. They wanted to confirm her beauty and seek her hand for marriage. Upon reaching Salik’s place, they found he was not present at the moment. Following the local customs, they were served hookah (chilem). As Mehruk was the only one present at home, she invited the guests inside to receive the hookah. Mullah Fazul without waiting for Mullah Bohair, entered and received the hookah, sharing a glance with Mehruk.


Meanwhile, they awaited Salik in the guest area, they conversed and praised Mehruk’s beauty. When Salik arrived, the two friends conveyed the purpose of their visit –a marriage proposal for Mehruk. Upon hearing the news, Mehruk refused because of Mullah Fazul’s lack of physical attraction and short height.


Mullah Fazul and Mullah Bohair returned home with heavy hearts. Mullah Fazul continued to write poetry for Mehruk in longing and love. Subsequently, another proposal followed Fazul’s, this time from a king. The king along with his family, Salik’s home. The proposal was accepted by Mehruk’s family. But when the king cited Mehruk while crossing the guest room, he refused to marry her. When people asked him for the reasons for his refusal, he stated that Mehruk was indeed perfect in every way but her premature death would bring him unbearable sorrow and possibly madness. As he could not bear the thought of being labelled as such by his people.


Meanwhile, in Makran Mullah Fazul’s poetry, left no one unaware of Mehruk’s beauty. Among his friends and companions, Mullah Izzat became deeply hooked with Mehruk’s beauty from afar. He decided to visit Pirdhan to see Mehruk in person and ascertain the truth of Fazul’s descriptions. Mullah Izzat travelled to Pirdhan under the excuse of selling the jewellery, he had as he was a goldsmith by profession. There, he saw Mehruk at a riverside while wandering the valley. Upon hearing someone call Mehruk by name, Izzat was left in awe. The people of Pirdhan unaware of his intentions, hosted Mullah Izzat with respect and love. They provided him with accommodation during his stay. However, he was so shaken by Mehruk’s beauty that he could not resist making her the subject of his poetry, which was unacceptable to Mehruk’s family. Izzat was called by Salik, he warned him to cease his actions but the warning failed to deter him, and he continued writing poetry. Later, he decided to ask Salik for his daughter’s hand in marriage.


Some writers claim that this story is fictional and that Izzat went directly from Panjgur to Pirdhan solely to propose to Mehruk.



Fortunately, Mullah Izzat’s proposal was accepted, as he was considered fine-looking. However, Salik requested a substantial dowry, which proved challenging for Mullah Izzat to procure at that moment. He requested time and returned to Gwadar, where he worked tirelessly day and night to fulfil the demands of Mehruk’s father.


One day, while Mehruk and her friends were enjoying themselves by the riverside, a caravan known as Bahi-i-Lashkar approached. Although Mehruk’s friends managed to avoid being seen but Mehruk was unable to escape. She submerged herself in the water, covering her body with her hair, but the caravan mistook her for a ghost and passed by. Unfortunately, Mehruk’s fate took a tragic turn as the caravan, invited to Salik’s home for a feast, recognized her and recalled the “ghost” they had seen in the river. It is believed that the evil eye befell Mehruk, and she fell gravely ill after the caravan departed. However, historical accounts suggest and alternative explanation: Mehruk’s untimely demise resulted from her brother’s distrust and he was unable to bear her beauty and the attention she garnered from men.


Mullah Izzat returned with the wealth he had gathered for the wedding, only to arrive on the day of Mehruk’s funeral. Overwhelmed with grief, he cursed the land of Pirdhan which buried Mehruk underneath.

“Oh, land of Pirdhan, You’ve embraced the epitome of beauty May Mehruk’s dreadful demise cast it shadow And may your vibrant hues fade away.”

Since then no springs have returned to Pirdhan. Izzat returned to Panjgur and later he moved to the mountains. He never ventured back to the city since then. To this day no one knows whether he is alive or dead, as no news of his death has been received nor has anyone seen him alive.


 

Retelling by Mina Baloch

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