On 6th September 2014, I was standing on the banks of river Tawi, looking at the gushing waters and probably what one calls “Natures Fury”. It had been raining all week long and the river was flowing much above the danger mark, almost kissing the bridge at Vikram Chowk. One of the newly inaugurated bridges had already bowed to these waters and stood damaged possibly for months to come.
The traffic on all the Tawi bridges connecting the two parts of the city had been closed for vehicles as well as the walkers. And it was still raining cats and dogs. But, it wasn’t the Jammu city which I was worried about. The water in this city moves out quicker than it comes in. But the scene on the banks was scary; I had never seen Tawi roaring like this before, neither had any one who had spent a life time there.
The city was divided, nobody was allowed to cross any of the bridges; the low lying areas were already inundated. For long hours, I along with a couple of friends, two of whom were to get married on the next consecutive weekends, kept looking at the sky and every time we stared at it, it rained harder. The one who was getting married on the coming weekend belongs to South Kashmir, for many days while in Jammu he was unaware if his marriage stood cancelled or not, for the reason that he was not able to contact his parents who could have given him that update. Just to quench the curiosity of the readers, both of them got married a couple of weeks later in the most austere way.
In the evening, it had stopped raining and the sky was clearing out. On 7th September, Sunday morning we went to see the Tawi again, it looked like somebody had tamed the wild animal, the water level was quickly receding as was expected. And Jammu city was as dry as ever.
But, when I said I wasn’t much worried for the Jammu city it was for the obvious reasons, the place I was worried about was Kashmir, and in particular my home. For past week, my couple of calls a day to home had been converted in two dozen calls a day, reason being the flood channel which flows behind our house. The water level in the flood channel had started rising. I was getting my daily updates also in the form of photographs on whatsapp from my brother. That’s what kept my nerves calm, because my parents and my grandfather would tend to keep these things from me, in case I would start worrying. The calling and the whatsapping continued on Sunday as usual. But the photographic updates on social networking sites were getting depressing with every passing hour.
My wife along with our one and a half year old son had gone to her parent’s house in Karan Nagar. At around 12:30, I got the pictures she whatsapped me of water making its way to their lawn. At 3’o clock, I got another picture from her, my brother in law abdomen deep in waters in their lawn carrying his German shepherd dog on his shoulders. At around 4:30 PM, I got the pictures showing half of the ground floor under water. It was around the same time that we talked, they had already moved to the second floor of the house. At 5 PM, I got a call from my father, they too had moved to the second floor in case the flood channel bund got breached the water levels would rise quickly around our house. That was actually the last I talked to some one in Kashmir that day, because when I tried to call my father an hour later, the telecommunication lines were already snapped.
On Monday, I tried to keep myself from thinking about Kashmir, and so did my other friends. But on Tuesday morning when I woke up, I straightway headed to the Airport booked myself a ticket and flew to Srinagar.
To be continued…