There are so many men who are in love with Nur Jehan. I know cooks who prepare food for their sahibs and memsahibs while looking lovingly at her picture, which they have stuck on the kitchen wall. I also know domestic servants who do not care for Nargis, Nimmi or Kamini Kaushal but who are mad about Nur Jehan. Whenever they see a picture of hers, they clip it and put it in their collection, which they hoard in a broken tin trunk so that they can soothe their eyes by looking at it in their spare hours. Were someone to say something disparaging about Nur Jehan, such men would be prepared to fight. In our own home, we have a lover of Nur Jehan who calls every young girl, every bride and every woman wearing red, “Nur Jehan.” He knows practically all her songs. He himself is good-looking, so I am at a loss to understand what it is about Nur Jehan that he likes so much that he keeps talking about her from morning to evening.
He is closely related to me, being the son of my nephew Hamid Jalal and my sister-in-law Zakia. His name is Shahid Jalal but we all call him “Taku.” We have tried to tell him many times that he should seriously think of falling out of love with Nur Jehan whom he cannot marry, as she is already married and has her own children, but it has no effect on him. He loves movies and if these movies do not star Nur Jehan he is very upset. He comes home and begins to sing her songs. He has told his parents that all he wants in the world is Nur Jehan. Some time ago, his grandfather Mian Jalaluddin went to the street to meet Shaukat Hussain Rizvi and said to him, “Look, you have a rival who is madly in love with your wife and one of these days he is going to run away with her and you will be left watching.” Shakat asked awkwardly, “Who is he?” Maian Jaluluddin smiled. “My grandson.” “Your grandson! How old is he?” “About four.” When Nur Jehan heard the story, she declared that she would go and meet her lover and marry him. Shahid Jalal has been in seventh heaven since being given the news and is watching impatiently for the day when Nur Jehan will come to see him and become his bride.
Recently, someone told me a story about another of Nur Jehan’s lovers, who was not four, but a grown-up man, a barber by profession. He would sing her songs all day long and never tire of talking about her. Someone said to him one day, “Do you really love Nur Jehan?” “Without a doubt, “ the barber replied sincerely. “If you really love her, can you do what the legendary Punjabi lover Mahiwal did for his beloved Sohni? He cut a piece of his flesh from his thigh to prove his love,” the man said. The barber gave him his sharp cut-throat razor and said, “You can take a piece of flesh from any part of my body.” His friend was a strange character because he slashed away a large chunk of flesh from his arm and ran away while the barber fainted after providing this proof of love. When this great lover regained consciousness in May Hospital, Laore, the first words that came to his lips were, “Nur Jehan.”
- From Stars from Another Sky by Saadat Hasan Manto.