Tryst With The River Indus

Tryst With The River Indus

5 mins

I heard that the river originates in Tibet, somewhere near Manasoravar. Then, it briefly flows through India before making its ways through Pakistan into the Arabian Sea. As I stood on the banks of the river, its tortuous route through Tibet, India and Pakistan flashed before my eyes. Indus, witness of one of the most ancient riparian settlements in the world, tossed and turned on its shallow bed in the clasp of the great Himalayan range. The swift current swirled in white foams towards what once used to be the great city of Harappa. The brilliant sunset tinged the grey rocks and the white snowcaps.

I gazed at the shimmering reflection, as a stiff wind blew across my face. "Surely, she would stop or pass by this spot. Won't you tell her that I came looking for her?" The water gushed forth through the gathering dusk. After a while the river whispered back. "I chronicle only the most magnificent feats of human history. Tell me about your quest, and I would know whether it qualifies for an entry in my narratives". "My quest is nothing extraordinary. Love, the commonest weakness of human nature, has brought me to your course. I hope to meet her in the same passes and valleys you meander through". "She is an explorer? Then, she must be strong, and in no need of your assistance." "Indeed, she is one of the strongest woman I have ever seen. I did not come to assist her; I only had the compelling need to see her. I understand that she is riding through this unkind terrain for the last few weeks with scarce supply of food, water and resources. " I gulped for air, as I spoke. "You seem to be breathless yourself." "Not as much as I was in the plains. In the mountains, at least her presence nearby burns like a talisman inside me." "Probably you are just infatuated - being in love is a very difficult matter, you know? In any case, how did you fall in love?"

The air was getting cold, and I shivered slightly as I continued.

"She is like a gentle but fiery whiff of spring air, that eludes the senses and touches the mind. Her smile alone can bring any man to his knees. She combines strength with femininity, and humour with adventure with such easy grace. She scales the mountains as skillfully as the snow leopard. She defies the hackneyed definitions of propriety. However, her flirtatiousness belies a deeply sincere nature. She, herself, is capable of unbelievable, insane, and almost self-destructive love. I admired her from a distance, deftly evading her temptations."

"How did you lose your sanity? What was the final trigger?" The ripples on the water glowed with an eerie light. It seemed that the current had suddenly gained a greater urgency. My voice quivered slightly, as I recounted my story "It was a moonlit night in a city thousands of miles from this beautiful valley. She held my hand lightly, and I heard the tumult of the impending storm. As we traversed the moon-bathed streets of the desolate city, she confessed the longing she had long harboured for me. I looked at her in awed silence. It felt like a dream within a dream. Then, the storm came and I was in its eye." "Did you make love?" the river asked after a pause. "No, we stopped. Or, I stopped, rather. But my existence was turned upside down. She lifted a huge rock off my chest and my life knew no boundaries thereafter. Finally, I resigned to this overpowering, overwhelming love, which recognised no constraints. My affection, of course, is unrequited, but I do not care". "You lie!!" the river roared back. "You care deeply. Your madness is not without expectation. You have travelled across the plains and the mountains to hold her in your arms, to kiss her." I could not deny. "Yes, I want the mountains and the rivers to be my witnesses, when I finally end my quest". "Your quest? It would end so mundanely? Then, you are not fit for my annals. I thought that you have dedicated yourself to a lifetime pursuit."

It was almost dark now, and the river Indus produced the only noise in an otherwise silent world. "A lifetime pursuit, but with what possible outcome?" I questioned at length. "I thought you mentioned that it did not matter. If you go down my course, you would discover the traces of an abandoned but unforgettable civilization. Granaries, roads and bathhouses built thousands of years back. I preserved the ruins, not only because they were once example of splendid architecture, but also because they were the results of enormous dedication. I cannot possibly champion the cause of a man whose flames shall die out with just one kiss. You described her well to me. She resembles me - born free and forever free. Turn your despair for her into words of immortal creation. I have inspired resplendent architecture on my banks. She would be the lifeline of your verses and works. She may not love you back, but she would never be able to deny that you love her beyond all human capability. That would be your reward. Your entire life would be the continuation of the lovemaking you had once stopped abruptly."

I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder. Abdul - my cab driver had walked up to me. "Sir, it would soon get dark. It would be risky to drive on these roads. Do you want to wait here?" I thought for a second. "I need to see her tonight, safe and happy. Let's charge on Abdul". The Ladakh valley looked magical in the crimson twilight. I bade my farewell to the river Indus. After all, it had shown me the path forward. As I turned back, I observed that my footprints were deeply etched on the river bank. "Would she notice?" I wondered.

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