Hymns and hums alongside the blowing conch is the daily remarked arrival of the sun at the edge of the river Ganges in Banaras. This elegant and magnanimous picture remained always tagged with me until the moment of my departure from Delhi where I was a second year graduate student in 1983.
I carried this away all along with a hope that a time is waiting for me for a live and short conversation with the Ganges. The height of my zeal that the morning of Banaras is said to be different than the rest of the mornings in the country was churning and twirling all time. The universal fact that the sun rises in the east was taught to me in the school years back and the time for rising the sun is the same whether over the most famous waterway ‘the Ganges’ or the deserts of Thar in west of Aravalli mountain range in northwestern India in the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, or Punjab.
My disembarkation at the Kashi railway station was a sigh of relief from a long journey. A thin line of people unlike Varanasi railway station was a soothing good feeling. The outside from the station was a mute sensibility of loneliness. To my numbness and satisfaction were a few mendicants attending elderly people. I could see a few boats floating scattered. As the sailors could be seen and known to my sense to combat the loneliness of the river by anthropomorphizing themselves in association with the river bed of the Ganges. A few meters down the Kashi railway station was my lone associate was the Ganges who I could converse with.
I walked along the serene streaming water until the Da-shashwamegh-Ghaat. Scattered stray inanimate objects were past marching me and the cliff over helter swelter…Truly spectacular, from the stubborn walkway on the cliff above and the river bank itself was loaded with idyllic several onomatopoeic sighs and exclamations. The wad of memory soaked into my conscience is the immortal Ganges that flows in my vein today.
A similar psychological mechanism could explain to my sensibility why the boatman marooned on the river bed to anthropomorphize inanimate objects, in some cases creating a cabal of imaginary companions with whom I could share the solitude. Did I try to mesmerize the story of endurance? I was unable to resist the ongoing conversation with the Ganges but I continued drifting aimlessly for hours by taking a tilt of rest. Still, I was not able to get detached from the somersaulting inanimate objects. Seemingly an embittered lady approached me for charity. I declined .She did not stop growing cactus on her sturdy and greasy tongue while taking her leave empty handed. I was speechless, obnoxious and confused whether I could do something for the skinny lady of ruffled hair. Sailors did combat the loneliness of the river and their utter carelessness around might not be appealing harmful to them but the inaudible choir of the lady still lives.
As of now, what instill me are the several onomatopoeic sighs and exclamations signifying the people’s fulfillment on the great day of oath ceremony of Narendra Modi at the grand residency of the President. They are now all set to galvanize the system in the country. What new things are expected to come in is the old one: inflation, corruption and security. Is there something behind far away from the maddening crowd?
India’s most threatened river, “Mother Ganga,... needs someone to take her out of this dirt.” It originates immaculate from a Himalayan glacier 3,048 meters high. Yet raw sewage from 29 cities blights its 2,525-kilometer route as bloated bodies of dead animals, funeral pyre ashes, reduced flow from dams and factory waste fouls its waters. Remedy is still not known. The Yamuna starts in the Himalayas and flows through New Delhi and Agra remains heavily polluted... all these discomfits me and prolong the silent misery and magnitude of illness of a common man. The Ganges is far more challenging. Millions of people address groundwater risks; aquifers depleted by farmers and boreholes and rising arsenic contamination are weakening the immunity of the river... and more loads of questions I couldn’t bear with. Just a walk away from the trailer of sick images for a moment I thought would be an escape.
The shunting of the goods train was not a reckless affair at the Varanasi railway station. Ideas keep shunting. The engine of the train ultimately decided to halt near the loco shade all alone releasing a row of thin white smoke. Kashi Vishwanath express was there to carry me back to Delhi.