I laced up my shoes, put on my sweatshirt and waited my friend Harish. He’s not much of a runner, but was sweet enough to escort me. Both of us headed out, towards Dal Lake. The Boulevard curved invitingly. Surrounding us were the Greater Himalayas- snowcapped and rugged in their majesty. The giant mountains encircled the pristine lake in the blue light of early morning, creating a perfect reflection on its calm face. They were like silent sentinels for this sleepy town, having witnessed all the blood shed over the past two decades.
We started with a slow jog to warm up. It was cold and we were at 5000 ft above sea level. As we cruised along slowly, a comfortable silence prevailed as each of us seemed to be having a silent conversation with nature. A kingfisher kept us company, as it darted in and out of the weeds on the periphery of the lake.
Each step drew up a new vista. Each frame – picture perfect. The occasional boatman drawing
up the weeds in the shikara, and another with the romantic ruins of the once beautiful Pari Mahal nestled amongst the mountains.
After a fair bit of warm up – the perfectness of the scene hit me- and I flew away- like a bird. With the wind in my hair and the cold breeze on my face. I left Harish behind and just forged ahead- my heart couldn’t stop. I ran at full speed and felt the hot blood rising to my cheeks. As I ran out of breath I slowed down, only to normailse my heart rate and take off again. My heart was racing and my legs were flying. I felt as light as a bird on the grassy pavement. The tall Chinars and the mighty misty mountains showed me how small I was. Just a speck on the horizon. There was no stopping me. It was the most stunning 7k- EVER!!!
The only reason I did stop was when a group of local youths passed me by. Fear crept up within me. I slowed down. Waited for Harish. In fact, although I felt I could outrun them, I I turned around and jogged slowly towards him. Then we walked along the boulevard.
Kashmir they say is Paradise on earth. We are told that it’s a place of cherry blossoms, crystal clear waters, saffron fields and peaceful lakes, stunning gardens and regal Chinar trees. In the
mountains, valleys and countryside, Kashmir’s splendor and natural beauty is on display throughout the seasons. But the valley has been blood stained. Multitudes have gangraped the valley. Manipulative politicians, religious fundamentalists, and the poor misguided youth to name a few.
We sat on the Boardwalk to absorb the scene. Everything seemed to be in complete harmony. The sun, now higher up, the stillness of the water, the blue cloudless sky. The warmth of completion enveloped me, and a feeling of satisfaction seeped in, only to open the walls of the heart to reveal the chasm of emotions. The dark corners were filled by bursts of sunlight changed with the moving sun. The abyss is unknown and it shows its treacherous depths once you hurtle down at breakneck speed.
Many questions welled up within me. We had heard that on previous evening (it was election day) a 22 year old youth was gunned down. Curfew was on for all the three days that we were in Srinagar.
Unrest prevailed in the old city. Calm rested over the lake. A valley of contrasts.
The frailty of Human life was exposed. This deceptive untainted scene has an ugly underbelly.
When will this stop. How will it stop. When will roses be coloured with joy instead of crimson blood!
As we sat there and lived in the moment, time stood still. I lived my entire life in that moment.
Reality is the truth of each moment.