When Jhelum wept!



                    From the days of yore I continue to run through the vast chest of a paradise, nestled in the lap of tall and guarding mountains. The wheels of time keep running, albeit without bringing a healing- balm to the bleeding wounds of my countrymen. The long shores that guide my waters have been helplessly watching the cyclones of death and destruction unleashed on my people. Yet again the same brutal summer has brought a monsoon of atrocities and sufferings. The cycle of pain and agony cannot evade the powerful currents of breeze that rises from my lap. The same breeze that would beautify the emerald mornings with new life and freshness. O Moon(B.K)!  I wish you could see the same breeze, now loaded with mountains of grief and pain. I wish you could hear the wails of my fishes as chocolate-faced boys of my vale are being hunted down like coots in a wetland.  I wish you could fathom how my rest gets robbed off when the city I run through is smoked with bullets and tear gas shells. Now the morning sun shies to kiss my waters after watching the heart-breaking mauling and maiming of oppressed people. The broken moon too has disappeared into the thick and dark clouds of grief. Curfew seems to have crippled the wings of birds that would decorate my evenings with melody of love. Or pellets might have ruptured their eyes, pushing them into long lightless tunnels?  And the songs might be there, imprisoned in their throats? Poplars, Willows and Chinars dotting my banks seem to have forgotten the hush after watching the uniformed-hunters firing pellets into the bubbling eyeballs of young boys and girls, bursting and bulging them out like cheap soap-bubbles. The same little eyes that harbored big dreams (Who can forget the dream of Insha!) .Every stream, every canal and every ravine that gushes through villages, towns and apple orchards runs waters drowned in melancholy. And every drop of it submerges in me with a sigh. If my ordeal has turned your eyes moist, hold back a little! I am going to tell you the story of a moment that forced me to cry like a baby.

That day (26th of August 2016) also the brave and freedom-aspiring people of this caged- paradise had hit the roads raising their voices (their only weapon) against the merciless butchering of their fellow humans. It had been near two months of bloodshed, coupled with an epidemics of dead eyes. The hazy sky that hung over their spirited heads was watching them marching and raising slogans in pursuit of peace and freedom. The rally of oppressed reached near the mouth of a bridge that runs atop my chest. And suddenly but gleefully the caravan of peace-keepers (the most abused word in this part of the world) confronted them from the other end. An army of gun-wielding men-in-Khakies (both indigenous and imported) alighted from their warring vehicles. They were pumped up, emitting fire from their eyes and up for a deadly circus. On spotting the defenseless rally the uniformed-hunters ran mad after them, hurling immoral bytes. They invoked doom by firing bullets, pellets and tear gas shells. Amidst the deadly chaos people ran for their lives like frightened pigeons, to evade the wrath. Some managed a safe distance while some got injured but continued their desperate run. In the suffocating time and space an ill-fated duo of two youths got cornered. The power-drunk hunters were sure for a prey, however the fret of their clutches was such that the terrified duo preferred to jump into my waters. Both were short of breath as they dived down my depths. Before popping up their heads to swim, I heard both of them saying,”shukur khudaya!”. Alas! The hunters seemed crazy for the wildest circus. They ripped off the clothes of humanity and pelted stones to create waves of terror out of my calm waters. Oh! The ‘guardians of peace’ were laughing and deriving pleasure out of the fatal helplessness of the sinking humans. Like playing a video game, and winning level after level. Can Humans be so uncaring? The Hitler-army then fired pellets and tear gas shells at the bewildered duo. While one managed to escape the rain of stones, pellets and tear gas shells, luck betrayed the other. Amidst the storm of stones and pellets, a stone jolted the shivering-neck of shahnawaz craving for a shore. A traumatized shahnawaz shrieked and sobbed in my lap. Tears welled from his pleading eyes and submerged in my waters, leaving me feel divorced. Oh! The images of his one-year old toddler, who was so dare to him flashed in front of him. He wept at the goriest loss. Sensing death, he still did not give up and instead continued to hover over water. His helplessness looted the rest of a far-off boy who jumped in to save a drowning shahnawaz. However, what followed was even more tragic that sent shivers down my magnificent depths. Something which is too heart-piercing that even the film-makers can not dare to picturize and display as a fake tragedy. The bloodthirsty hunters fired pellets and tear gas shells at the Herculean boy who was not less than a ‘meseha’ for a dying shahnawaz. Their blazing guns deprived shahnawaz of a chance to swim, and a chance to live. Sighting the tragic scene a boatman who was at a visible distance hurried his boat towards a sinking shahnawaz. Ah! Albeit only to met the same wrath as the death-enjoying zombies again fired a volley of whooshing pellets and tear gas shells. With both the inklings of hope forced to fade away, the power-drunk hunters watched but gleefully, and climaxed the brutal circus by ensuring poor shahnawaz drowns to death.  During the last moments that silenced him forever, he bubbled out a desperate message for his bruised nation, that read, “Betray me not!”

Muhammad Muzaffar works in Revenue Department, Government of j & K and can be reached @[email protected]


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