Love Stories of the Risalo of Shah Latif - Moomal Rano
The Risalo of Shah Latif is divided into chapters called Surs which are composed on the lines of musical notes. Each sur is based on symbols taken from stories which are part of Sindhi folklore
Sur Mumal Rano has captured the imagination of readers & "Rano" has, more than being one character of this love story and a sur named after him, become a favorite musical piece which is this sur rendered in a semi-classical style, the experts of this genre being Ustaad Manzoor Ali Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Abida Parveen & Ustaad Mohammad Juman to name a few
The story begins with the description of the charms, clothes and perfume adorning Mumal and her sisters and attendants as they weave a web of magic in the Kak palace to attract rich suitors for the hand of Mumal, deprive them of their wealth and also finish them off in a maze of labyrinths, fake ponds and other illusions of the palace.
The reputation of this palace, and of Mumal’s dazzling beauty soon became legend. Hamir alias Umar, the last Soomro King of Umer Kot in Sindh, and his three ministers, all Sodhas by caste were attracted to the magical Kak.
One of the ministers was the young Rano alias Mendhro. Hamir attempted to reach the palace but failed. The other ministers, too, failed. Rano then ventured to try his luck. He was an extremely intelligent and courageous man which led him to succeed in reaching the palace, unharmed. Mumal was so impressed that she accepted her as her consort. He spent the night at the palace and returned to Umer Kot in the morning. He covered long distance from Umer Kot to Kak to spend time with Mumal.
One day, Rano reached Kak Mahal unusually late due to some business that he had to attend to. Mumal got so frustrated that she planned to play a trick on him. She dressed her Sumal in a man’s attire and made her sleep by her side. When Rano arrived, he mistook Sumal as a Mumal’s paramour.
Out of disgust he left his riding cane besides Mumal’s bed and returned to Umer Kot. Mumal pleaded Rano to forgive her but Rano ignored her requests.
Out of desperation, she set a fire and jumped in it. When Rano came to know of this, he rushed to the place where he saw that Mumal was already in flames, he joined her to be consumed by the fire along with Mumal.
[Taken from Agha M. Yaqoob's 3 volume translation of the Risalo with minor editing]
As indicated above, Rano is now sung during mehfils and it is most frequently requested musical piece in a mehfil of kafi genre.
what better way to conclude, this story of eternal quest for love, to capture the essence of this sur by a verse that encapsulates Moomal's anguish, her waiting for her raano
vaithee nit-u nihaaray-aan, raana tohinjee raah
mota-aay maagan tay, aaranduoee Allah
rana togar saah, nat-a rana ghara-n raaj main
Urdu translation by Agha Saleem
taktee hoon din raat ay raana
main to tairee raah
aik din tukh jo layay ga
aangan main Allah
English translation by yours truly
lonesome I sit
eyes fixed on ever path
that could lead you to me
my soul in a prayer, sweet prince
that the Lord blesses your safe return
love, there are many a prince in this land
but you are the one that rules my heart