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Jhelum Dhoondhay Kinaara…

As I journey through the rugged terrain, I bear witness to the passage of time
01:03 AM May 12, 2024 IST | Syeda Afshana
jhelum dhoondhay kinaara…
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I am Jhelum. And I carry within me the essence of centuries, the echoes of forgotten melodies besides dreams of those who have walked along my shores. Emanating from the pristine waters of the Himalayas where I murmur secrets to the sky and cradle stories of past among valleys, meandering through the lush landscapes like a silver ribbon, I weave my course through wide fields.

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As I journey through the rugged terrain, I bear witness to the passage of time. My waters reflect the changing hues of the skies, from the fiery embrace of dawn to the gentle caress of twilight. With each ripple that leaps upon my surface, I carry the memories of generations past, tales of love and loss, triumph and tragedy, etched into the very makeup of my being.

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In the quietude of dawn, when people are still draped in the stupor of sleep, I buzz to the morning breeze, sharing the enigma of the night with the waking world. I become the storyteller of the dawn, drawing dreams from the whispers of the darkness, my waters struggling to shimmer with the promise of a new day.

But beneath my serene exterior lies a tumultuous essence, a reminder of the challenges that I have faced over the centuries. I have weathered the centuries of conquest and conflict, my waters bearing witness to the ebb and flow of history. Yet, through it all, I have remained steadfast, a silent sentinel watching over the land that I call home.

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My once crystal-clear waters flowed with calm, revealing the secrets of my depths to all who dared to gaze upon me. I was the lifeline of the land, nurturing every living thing that crossed my path. “Facing Jhelum” was more than just a name; it was a symbol of prestige and prosperity, a tribute to the prettiness of my waters.

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But now, my once splendid waters have been spoiled by the pollution that people have wrought upon me. No longer can anyone peer into my depths; I am shrouded in shade, a shadow of my earlier self. I am viewed with fear and trepidation, seen as a monster waiting to unleash havoc upon the land. Just two days of rain and shivers run down the spines of those who dwell around my banks. From Sangam to Asham to Vishow Nallah, the gauge of my waters tells stories of disaster and destruction, each rise and fall marking the trail of time and the madness of mankind.

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But am I to be blamed for all this chaos? It is people who encroached upon my banks in pursuit of petty gains. They weakened my defenses, leaving me vulnerable to the whims of nature’s wrath. They constructed towering edifices upon my shores, heedless of the consequences, and blocked my tributaries with impunity. However, their wrath turned worse for them only. Recall deluge of 2014!

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Did anyone take any measures to cleanse me of the filth you dumped into my waters? No! Instead, you chose to overlook, move on with your wicked desires, oblivious of the agony you wreaked upon me and the land I nourish.

But heed this warning! For nature still grants you a chance of redemption. Do not succumb to your cunningness and conceit, for the sins of your deeds shall be visited upon your children and their children after them. Take heed of the lessons, for I am the voice of the Earth, lamenting for justice and salvation.

I seek solace, yearning for a Kinaara to shed the tears of torment and chant a dirge. It is here, in the clasp of my earliest shoreline that I long to mourn the impending demise of my once majestic existence. Agha Shahid Ali, who held “the half-inch Himalayas” in his hand, too predicted about me, “when I return, the colors won’t be so brilliant, the Jhelum’s waters so clean, so ultramarine…”

So as I gaze upon the desolation that surrounds me, I am overcome with a vast but reflective sense of loss. I concede that gone are the days when my waters flowed freely, sparkling in the sunlight as they danced along their course. Now, I am but a mere shadow of my former self, a mere shell of the mighty river I once was.

Of course, I am haunted by the memory of a time long past that appears an illusion now. When my banks teemed with life and my waters echoed the laughter of children at play. But today, what remains is an inward silence, broken only by the somber wails of the wind as it whistles through the barren backdrop—the drowned corpses and cries; sunken Dongas; brimming bridges; slit stifle; waste & woe dumping and what not.

Oh, how I long to mourn my own death! To shed the tears of regret, heaped within me like a storm-cloud on the horizon. But alas, even that small comfort is denied to me, for my tears would only serve to further inundate the land that I once called home.

Thus, I am left to wander these desolate, dilapidated shores, a ghostly apparition of a river long forgotten….Vyeth Rozeh Rewaan.

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