As I walk down the line
I can’t say that all is mine
But neither the clouds are crying, nor is shining the sun
Maybe this journey has just begun!
I was walking along the Chinar covered Bund, a light breeze was blowing right into my face. I remembered that there was "tshath"(cold wave), so I just raised my jacket collar and dug my chin. It was April but still there was chill in the air. Walking further I saw the familiar stairway leading directly to the water surface. Seeing this, I could not control myself but just went to sit at the last step. Now this last step was a very special. It was the step where I had spent many a days of my childhood, spending hours talking, discussing and fighting over anything from Duck Tales and Cricket to the frequent Hartals with my friends. As I was sitting there alone, the good old days flashed before my eyes!
Suddenly I heard a voice saying, “What are you thinking?” With a smile on my face and some happy thoughts in my mind, I said, “Nothing but some fine memories!” But then I realized, there was nobody there. Who talked to me? I was high on drugs seemed to be a reasonable answer. But I don’t do drugs, was the thought that made the explanation invalid.
I don’t know how, but some water splashed onto my face and the voice said, “It’s me Jhelum”. Again, I don’t do drugs but that seemed to be the only logical explanation. However there was a spontaneous reaction from my side and I just said, “Are you mad, you smashed this dirty water on my face. I will now get infected with jaundice, cholera, typhoid, mumps, leprosy, hepatitis and all other diseases in the world, you name it and I have it. Even Dettol can’t protect me now! Now what am I……..” My protest was however cut short with another slap of water on my face. I came to my senses. It really was Jhelum! Every muscle in my body wanted to run away, but somehow my body was glued to that last step.
To protect my face from another slap of water (this would have surely ensured that I got all the diseases), I said Salaam (Salaam is really a magic word; you can start a conversation in any situation!). Thus conversation started. It told me to calm down, which really was a strange thing. A river was talking to me. No hear it again, “A river was talking to me!” and I was not crying insanely for help. I did not make a dash for my life. So I suppose that I was calm!
And Jhelum said, “I have seen you since a long time, since you were a kid. You are a frequent visitor to this spot”. “Well not anymore!” I thought to myself. After being infected by so many diseases, my chances of living to be a “frequent visitor” seemed quite slim. But for the sake of courtesy I said, “Ya, I come here often. This is a nice spot.” And then it began saying, “You know, I was not always like this. I was not your “have it all” disease carrier. I was clean in the past. In fact even the people were clean hearted. They used to drink my water and scores of children would play by my side. Those were happy days! People used to care. I was not considered as the big drain of waste where smaller drains would be dumped. I was the beloved veyth. Civilizations used to flourish by my sides. I was not the debating material for newspapers, which demand my revival but ironically the waste coming from their offices is also dumped in me. I was the pride of Kashmir. I have seen men for ages now, but have never seen such a rotten lot. I was and will be there. But it appears these poor idiots will not benefit from me.” Then after a pause it said, “Go now, for you have hurt me deeply. I am not in a mood this time. However do come some other day, for I have a lot to talk about.” I straightaway got up, said salaam and left. “Maybe I had hurt it too much. Maybe it was crying all the time.” But you can’t tell if a river is crying or not, there is always too much water. You can’t always tell the difference between water and tears. “What a crybaby and a frequent complainer. Ya Allah save me from another such ordeal!” These were some of the thoughts that were ringing in my mind.
But as I was walking back home, some questions really bugged me. Who is the real cry baby and complainer? Hasn’t Jhelum always forgiven us and accepted whatever came its way? And hearing just a single complain wasn’t it me who just puffed and fumed? Who was responsible for this sorry situation? Why do all our drains point to Jhelum? Don’t we have a responsibility? When will we realize this? Will we even realize it? Will it be too late by then? Will I ever have this conversation again?....... With so many questions resonating in my mind, I reached home only to find that I was late for my classes and so I just…………….
Best things in life are really free
Be it the morning breeze or shade of a tree
We keep abusing them, thinking we are smart
Maybe all we need, is to look in our heart!