A flood is like a curfew.Strange are its approaches:
People are cut off from the basis of life,there is no communication,no certainty of life and yet a sense of ‘Social Solidarity’ prevails amongst people.People become exiles in their own country and there is no news in a strangling situation.You know nothing about the fate of your dear-ones.
A flood conducts itself in a bizzare fashion,acts like a heartless man who always finds a woman and a child as the target of his heartless plans.
It happened on the fourth day of flood when I went to Srinagar in need of some emergency medicines.Traversing through huge tides of water all my way,I managed to reach Batamaloo.To my astonishment,Srinagar was soaking in water.I was exposed to unbelievable scenes as a number of women and children were fighting and moving against the gigantic flow of water to come out of their sunken houses.There was no one to help the people come out of their houses except a few strangers who had come from different parts of the valley.A number of diminished women were looking pale and tense,sitting on the shop fronts,doubtful of what was going to happen in the coming hours.
With no internet and electricity back home,I had no possible ideas of seeing Srinagar in such a disturbing mode.
A number of dogs struggled to keep their feet on dry surfaces and it was difficult for them to release pheromones and find landmarks which could have guided them to safe places.But water level only increased and dogs cried,wailed and died before my eyes.The scenes were so troubling and I was remembered of a couplet by beloved Ghalib:
“While going,you say,’we’ll meet on Doomsday’
That’s a good one!As if Doomsday is some other day.”
I was sitting on a cart which had come from some unknown territory with water.The King’s chopper was flying over my head and some people behind the Fire Services Headquarters were waving from the rooftops of their houses but no helicopter came to their rescue.Perhaps,the King was busy tweeting his location.
There were no extra efforts by any government agency but one thing that was deeply disturbing was the attitudinal behaviour of Indian soldiers.In the time of such emergency,they maintained their unpleasent conduct and actions.Knowing that reaching Jahangir Chowk was a distant dream if I persisted with walking by foot,I tried to get onto a CRPF truck which was heading towards the same destination but they waved their guns by not allowing anyone get onto it.
A single boat was also reserved to take care of the areas of Batamaloo and Karan Nagar.It was an overpowering device controlled by a pair of cops and did nothing good except ruining a few cars which were parked thereat.
A man who had his four-month-old infant son caught in the top story of his house pleaded before the cops for their help but so much of arrogance reflected from their faces that they started a scuffle with the poor man.Perhaps,they did not have children.Perhaps,they did not have heart.Perhaps,they did not feel pain.Perhaps,they did not love.
In a confused condition of mind exertion,I began to think of the wealth Kashmir lost,I began to think of the pale,nervous women of Srinagar.I began to think of the dogs that died before my eyes.I began to think of the inabilities of the oppresser ruling me.I began to think of the fear of losing dear-ones.I began to think of the pointlessness I would go through while writing my report on it.My mental energy was finished and I lit a cigarette and decided to leave for home.
That night,I did not take food;Not a morsel even! I did not sleep even and counted the night,second to second in a state of despair.I took breathes in the air of melancholy entering through the windows of my room,wondering about the safety of my friends and my cousins.
I did not turn off my table lamp till my cigarette packet went empty.In that darkest and smouldering night,I could not sleep and there was nothing left that could help me in a state of desperation except a couplet by Master Faiz.It hit me very deeply and I wrote it on my diary over and over.A hundred times! I loved writing it:
“Exiles speak to the wind of their lost country
and the eyes of the morning brim with tears.”