Naseer A Ganai
I was fond of her since my childhood. Hardly I missed a day when I didn’t embrace her. Early in the morning I would rush to see her. She was always quiet, beautiful, and I was unlike her. I was impatient, impulsive and above all fond of her. Her calmness and cleanliness was adding to her beauty and within minutes I would see myself putting off my clothes and embracing her and losing myself in her calmness. It would give me joy. The joy, I cannot express in words. After remaining with her for half an hour, I would be back to home. Feeling fresh and energetic, I would do my schoolwork within minutes, polishing my shoe and rush to Islamia Model High School. The School was in our village in Old Barzulla hardly 2 kms from Lal Chowk, city centre of Srinagar.
The recess time was lunchtime for every body in the school. After having my lunch, I used to give slip to my friends to have a look at her. She was my obsession and after school hours, I would again found myself at Doodganga Bund looking at her. And within seconds I would be immersed in her. For hours together this romance of ours would continue.
But I should say, that too sadly I was not only person who was in love with her. There were many others who were fond of her. She had even consumed so many youth. Some were handsome guys. And in their prime, the bewitching beauty had them in full.
She didn’t spare even three-year-old children. She consumed so many of them. Still, she was the favorite of all. Her body, her curves, her cleanliness were enough to turn men irrespective of their age, insane. I have seen aged people taking dip in her. The aged, were more fond of her. They had long association with her. They were narrating anecdotes of so many people who had been in love with her. Besides, someone has said, “past to old people is like a meadow, which never faces autumn.” So they would sit near her and discussing affairs of Barzulla.
But things took ugly turn and parents would not allow their children to have rendezvous with her. But still children would rush to have a feel of her waters. It was always refreshing to see children taking dip in her waters.
I had notion, she would never turn old. She will always remain young, she will always attract lovers. I had a notion that unlike others she is different. She will always inspire people to have a long look at her. Seeing her was seeing beautiful model on the ramp.
From school I went to higher secondary. But I didn’t find any change in her. She was all there to welcome me. But I found discernable change in my friends, who were showing reluctance in meeting her. I was ridiculing them. Hiding from my parents I was rushing to have a dip in her, to swim on her waters.
Soon I joined the college, but I didn’t forget her. I didn’t even change my routine. But now meeting her was becoming sort of anathema. Now it would be my friends who were ridiculing me. ‘She is so dirty, she stinks and still you go and take dip in her waters,” admonished my friends. Such comments about my beloved, who always opened her arms for me, hurt me but I couldn’t do anything. Now I entered the University and I would see her complexion changed little bit. But for my friends, who were already calling her ugly, had now new names for her. “sewerage and drainage.” And some were so brazen that they were calling her garbage dump.
Still I would make myself believe that she was still fresh and juicy.
I had loved her body and the soul. I didn’t desert her in worst times. It was not blind love. She had taught me best things in my life. She taught me how to be patient. How to tolerate people who don’t deserve to be tolerated. I cherish those moments when I was with my friends spending hours together with her. Those days, when life was friends and friends were life.
So I continued my meetings with her. But now they become secret meetings. Secret, because no one had liking for her anymore. If anyone would see me taking dip in her waters, he would reprimand me. And elders would give long sermons. That its’ water is dirty, you might catch diseases and so on and so forth. Soon we changed residence and with it, it became impossible for me to meet her.
But few days ago when I went to Old Barzulla and stared at her from a bridge, which was recently construed by residents themselves, I was shocked to see her.
The bridge too had long history. In past ten years I might have been hundred times on this bridge discussing frivolous things. Discussing with my friends, their girl-friends, their habits, our life, our past and our future.
But from this bridge when I looked at my beloved Doodganga river, she was really looking ugly. She was just stinking. It was hard for me to see her for long. She had really lost her prime. She was old haggard. She had no attraction for anyone. She was really a garbage dump.
My heart sunk seeing her condition. Like in past when I was in school, her mere sight was so forceful that within seconds I was putting off my clothes and I was immersed in her. But now her sight so ugly, I wish I could not have seen it. Instead of beautiful faces of children, dogs where doings rounds around her. Carcasses were flowing on her water. And on its bunds cow-dung was omnipresent.
I thought in ten years what happened to her. Then I reached to conclusion her lovers were not her lovers. They were just after her when she was fresh and clean but when she was polluted by people they did nothing. They just watched like mute spectators. She was robbed of her beauty, her curves were occupied, her beautiful bunds were encroached, and she was filled with drainage, garbage and sewerage.
I was so frustrated that I wanted to runaway. But before I could do so, she told me why are you so indifferent. Her melancholic voice surprised me. “They not only robbed me of my beauty but people assaulted me. You are indifferent because I am not even a shadow of my past. I am not responsible for it. But you and others never cared about me. You had your fill and then left me.” I had no answer and didn’t put off my clothes to have dip in river Doodganga.