Sassui Punhun (Sindhi: سَسُئيِ پُنهوُن, Sassui Punhun, Urdu:سسی پنوں, Sassi Punnun), is a famous folktale of love told in the length and breadth of Sindh, Pakistan. The story is about a faithful wife who is ready to undergo all kinds of troubles that would come her way while seeking her beloved husband who was separated from her by the rivals.
This tragic story becomes for Shah the parable of seeker on mystical path who undergoes all kinds of tribulations in the quest of God whom he will find, at the end of the road, in his own heart, and Sassui, roaming in the wilderness and talking to the beasts, becomes something like feminine counterpartMajnun who, demented by his longing for Layla, is taken by the mystics of Persian and Turkish tradition as paragon of true lover.
Sassui was the daughter of the Raja of Bhambore in Sindh (now in Pakistan). Upon Sassui's birth, astrologers predicted that she was a curse for the royal family’s prestige. The Raja ordered that the child be put in a wooden box and thrown in the Sindhu. A washerman of the Bhambore village found the wooden box and the child in the box. The washerman believed the child was a blessing from God and took her home. As he had no child of his own, he decided to adopt her.
When Sassui became a young girl, she was as beautiful as the fairies of heaven. Stories of her beauty reached Punhun and he became desperate to meet Sassi. The handsome young Prince therefore travelled to Bhambor. He sent his clothes to Sassi's father (a washerman) so that he could catch a glimpse of Sassi. When he visited the washerman's house, they fell in love at first sight. Sassui's father was dispirited, hoping that Sassi would marry a washerman and no one else. Sassui's father asked Punhun to prove that he was worthy of Sassui by passing the test as a washerman. Punhun agreed to prove his love. While washing, he tore all the clothes as, being a prince, he had never washed any clothes; he thus failed the agreement. But before he returned those clothes, he hid gold coins in the pockets of all the clothes, hoping this would keep the villagers quiet. The trick worked, and Sassui's father agreed to the marriage.
Punhun’s father and brothers were against his marriage to Sassui (Punhun being a prince and she being a washerman's daughter) and so, for their father's sake, Punhun's brothers traveled to Bhambor. First they threatened Punhun but when he didn't relent, they tried more devious methods.
Punhun was surprised to see his brothers supporting his marriage and on the first night, they pretended to enjoy and participate in the marriage celebrations and forced Punhun to drink different types of wines. When he was intoxicated they carried him on a camel’s back and returned to their hometown of Kech.
The lovers meet their end
The next morning, when Sassui realized that she was cheated, she became mad with the grief of separation from her lover and ran barefoot towards the town of Kech Makran. To reach it, she had to cross miles of desert. Alone, she continued her journey until her feet were blistered and her lips were parched from crying "Punhun, Punhun!". The journey was full of dangerous hazards, which lead to her demise. Punhun’s name was on Sassui's lips throughout the journey. She was thirsty, there she saw a shepherd coming out of a hut. He gave her some water to drink. Seeing her incredible beauty, dirty lustful thoughts came into his mind, and he tried to force himself on Sassui. Sassui ran away and prayed to God to hide her and when God listened to her prayers, land shook and split and Sassui found herself buried in the valley of mountains. When Punhun woke he was himself in Makran he could not stop himself from running back to Bhambor. On the way he called out "Sassui, Sassui!" to which the shepherd replied. The shepherd told Punhun the whole story. Then Punhun also lamented the same prayer, the land shook and split again and he was also buried in the same mountain valley as Sassui. The legendary grave still exists in this valley. Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai sings this historic tale in his sufi poetry as an example of eternal love and union with Divine.