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The Day the River Wept….

Jhelum and the bridge, in hushed disbelief,
12:00 AM Apr 21, 2024 IST | Syeda Afshana
the day the river wept…

An overcast morning


when rain drizzles hazy


the mighty Jhelum flows—


mutely grand and glorious.




suddenly its waters slap strong,


ripping fierce route


through silent shores.

That fateful morning

children boarded a boat,

eyes shining with hope,

sailing to school.

Unaware of terrifying tragedy

coming their way.

A mother and her children,

their laughter mingling

with mourning melody,

as Jhelum turns into a tomb.

The boatman, skilled but weary,

tugged at the oar,

roping through the clamor.

Yet Jhelum,

relentless in its frightful fury,

capsized the boat

with a brisk blow.

As broken boat

tumbled towards

the bridge-of-tomorrow,

Jhelum’s rage grew.

“You came in my way!” it roared.

“You caused this chaos, this cruelty, this catastrophe!”

But, the bridge, still unfinished,

raised its voice in defense-

“I am but a structure,

a work in progress.

Your reckless waves,

your riotous spree,

led the boat to its tragic destiny.”

School bags floated,

bobbing on the surface,

ghostly reminders of grimness below,

where bodies get swallowed

by mysterious embrace of waters.

Jhelum wept that day!

Wept bitterly

for the mother and her little ones,

gone too soon;

For those still missing,

devoured by its deep dark depths.

Jhelum deluged with wildness and wrath-

“Why were you built here,

obstructing my might?

You knew the risks, yet you dared to stand.

Unfinished monster,

see innocent lives now snatched

by your timeless fingers!”

However, the bridge stood stanch-

“I am but a strait reaching for the sky.

It’s your tumultuous torrents,

your stormy surge

that swept the boat away

in a deadly swell.”

Contention grew between dread and doom.

The bridge blamed the river;

the river blamed instead.

Yet amidst discord, despair and death,

the community rallied with humanity rare.

For in the face of suffering,

in the depths of grief,

floated up a reflection of reprieve.

Neighbors huddled, in solidarity,

to save the drowning

and offer solace with grace.

As the sun set on that sorrowful day,

Jhelum and the bridge, in hushed disbelief,

perhaps reflected on the agony

of the lives lost too soon.

If only both bind beneath the same moon!

For in nature’s ploy, in ebbs and flows,

lies the balance of blithe and blue

pleasure and pain

learning and loathing.

And though the river may rage,

and the bridge stand big,

it’s in compassion and concord

that true healing shall hail.


(In memory of lost children who couldn’t sail to their school.

Dateline: Srinagar-16 April, 2024)