Over the years we are fed with folk tales of love and passion without ever divulging into the deeper meanings of what they really stood for. Almost every tale ends with the glorification of love without realizing that the final destiny of love has never been associated with getting married. May it be Heer-Ranjha, Sassi-Punoo, Mirza-Sahiban or Sohni-Mahniwal, all ending up in tragedy with eloping couples encountering varied fates, nothing whatsoever to do with marriage, or more particularly, Love.

The starting point to define love or otherwise can be to first look at the eternal symbol of love, The Taj Mahal. Emperor Shah Jahan built Taj Mahal for Empress Mumtaz Mahal. Mumtaz was Shahjahan's 4th wife out of his 7 wives. Have always wondered at the entrepreneurship of our king's to handle multiple wives for in all practicality, handling even one in the present age is a herculean task. Shah Jahan killed Mumtaz's husband to marry her. In other words, he was dating Mumtaz for a long time and finally murdered the poor husband to satisfy his hunger (Lust).

Ever heard the word morality? Making babies, as we all know, is our favorite sport. This mastery was achieved by the great Emperor Shah Jahan with ravishing ferocity by keeping his beloved pregnant all the time. The poor lady, for the sake of love, endured this pain for almost fifteen years but finally ran out of luck (breath) and died during her 14th delivery. To give final ending to his love, Shah Jahan married Mumtaz's sister and built Taj Mahal in the memory of his "beloved" wife Mumtaz. Looking at the character of the king, he for sure must have been dating Mumtaz’s sister. Empress Mumtaz must be turning in her grave visualizing her husband’s encounters with her sister. Just wonder where the hell was love in all this?

Heer-Ranjha is the most popular tragic romances of Punjab. It tells the story of the love of Heer and her lover Ranjha. After a quarrel with his brothers over land, Ranjha leaves home and arrives in Heer's village and falls in love with her. Heer offers Ranjha a job as caretaker of her father's cattle. This act of heer was commendable considering the job situation in the market even at that time. Although the salary offered to Ranjha is not mentioned, but he for sure was getting a packaged deal of job and love; thus mixing work with pleasure. They used to meet each other secretly for many years until were caught by Heer's uncle, Kaido.

The problem with luck is that it runs out one day. Ranjha instead of finding another similar job opportunity becomes a Jogi (parasite) to have an easy sailing. The story ends with heer poisoned by her uncle Kaido and Ranjha killing himself by poisoning himself. This was pure suicide, nothing else. Instead of taking heer to the doctor to save her life, he preferred to end his own life for had he been married to her, his life would have been terrible considering heer's affluent background and her demands for a better cushy living. He already lost a job and could not find another; hence committing suicide was an easy way out.

Sassi-Punhun is a famous Sindhi folktale of love. The story is about a faithful wife (do we still have around) who is ready to undergo all kinds of troubles that would come her way while seeking her beloved husband Punhun. Well she was not the Sassi of today's age who would have preferred to seek another wealthy husband instead of seeking her separated hubby. Punhun’s father and brothers were against his marriage to Sassi; Punhun being a prince and Sassi being a washer man’s daughter. What Punhun's family did not realize was that the washer man had a great future in waiting and one day could become the top designer in the country.

Hence the brothers of Punhun intoxicated him during the marriage function with wine (not-soft drinks) and carried him away when he got totally drunk. The point to be noted here is that instead of being with Sassi during the marriage function, Punhun was having hell of time drinking liquor which is now prohibited in this land of the pure.

The next morning, when Sassi got up (wonder how could she sleep on the wedding night without looking for her husband), she realized that she was cheated. She became mad with the grief of separation from her lover and ran barefoot towards the town of KechMakran where Punhun was taken. Had she been sensible, she should have worn nice shoes and taken a ride instead of running like a crazy women. But maybe she was short of money or wanted to save them for her expected kids. She finally and understandably died of hunger and thirst. Punhun while trying to find her meets the same fate. The tale speaks more of stupidity than love.

Then we have another tragic love story of Sohni-Mahniwal. Here, the heroine Sohni, unhappily married (as if happily married couples exist?) to a man whom she despises (who does not?), swims every night across the river where her beloved Mehar herds buffaloes (today's livestock business). This is a perfect example of a married women going astray and indulging in adultery. This also depicts the modernity prevalent at that time whereas the women were allowed to freely swim without having to worry about the moral ramifications.  One night her sister-in-law, must be a pious women, replaces the earthenware pot, which she uses to keep afloat in water, with a vessel of unbaked clay, which dissolves in water and she dies in the whirling waves of the river. In essence, she deserved to be drowned or even stoned to death had there existed the real Shariah.

Mirza-Sahiban is another tale in which Mirza is sent to his relatives' house to study, where he meets Sahiban and they fall in love. This is the perfect example of wasting parent’s hard earned money. He was sent to study but instead started romanticism. When, later in life, Sahiban is to be wedded, Mirza sahib arrives during Sahiban's mehndi ceremony and carries her away. Nowadays we call it abduction. Trying to avoid any bloodshed between her brothers and Mirza, she breaks Mirza's arrow. So when Sahiba's brother got hold of Mirza, he had nothing to fight with and was killed. Stupidity of Sahiban can be judged from this foolish act. Subsequently she kills herself with Mirza's sword. Her self annihilation seems more out of shame of eloping with the lover than out of love.

So for generations our children are told these stories highlighting the romanticism these carried. In truth, they are based either on lust, passion, stupidity, immorality or betrayal. Another lesson from these tales is that for any happy or tragic ending, getting married is never an option. Will never be! I am sure that next time when we will recite these so called love tales, we should not fool our kids for they are not as stupid as we tend to believe.

The writer is a PhD in Information Technology, alumni of King’s College London and a social activist. He is life member of the Pakistan Engineering Council and senior international editor for IT Insight Magazine. He has authored two books titled Understanding Telecommunications and Living In The Grave and several research papers. The writer prefersto avoid human interaction and finds peace & happiness being alone, in silence with his own self.