While looking at Tulla's beautiful creations, Izzat Beg saw Sohni at work, painting a pot. A glimpse of her startled Izzat Beg so that the most expensive bowl he was holding slipped from his hands shattering into a hundred pieces. His discomfiture caused a spontaneous gale of laughter from Sohni. Another look at her, and Izzat Beg lost his heart. He started visiting the potter's house every day on the excuse of buying the fine pottery, leaving Sohni to wonder how he could carry so much of the fragile ware back to Bukhara.
As the two fell deeper and deeper in love with each other, Izzat Beg's fortunes dwindled for he was idling his time away, lost in love. Meanwhile, Sohni's father, Tulla, brooking no protests, forced Sohni to marry another. Though now another man's wife, Sohni had given herself to Izzat Beg and did not accept her husband. Having lost all his fortune, Izzat Beg started looking after cattle, and the aristocrat of Bukhara, now became the cowherd, Mahiwal.
Every night Sohni used to cross the river Chanab using a large baked earthenware pitcher as a float, to meet her lover, Mahiwal. One day, her sister-in-law found out about these clandestine meetings and determined to avenge her brother, replaced the earthenware pot with an unbaked one which would melt halfway in the river. As was her wont, that evening, Sohni picked up the pitcher and realized it was the wrong one. But she could not keep her lover waiting for her, and using that pitcher to help her stay afloat she started swimming across the river. The stars were against her, for that night, there was a fierce storm, and the pitcher dissolved midstream causing Sohni to drown. Seeing her struggle in the swirling waters, Mahiwal jumped into the river and the current swept him away, the lovers passing into legend.
Here the two lovers content in each others embrace, have closed their eyes to the world.
The artist has deliberately kept the background sparse and the tree withered and unflowering, symbolically pointing to the tragic end this love story is destined to meet.