Tryst with Icebergs
The experience was simply exhilarating
Some poet has said ‘freedom has all colors- red for bravery; bloodshed in sacrifice, white for liberty, freedom’s purity and blue for justice as vast as sky’. Our land also has all colors. Trekking from Kungawatan to Kounsarnag Lake having an important place in our mythology, I saw all colors that make freedom interplaying with each other in total harmony but these did not have same meaning for as they might have for many children in free world. The nomadic shepherd children relishing their maize bread or rice half-cooked wild vegetables in old aluminum utensils under a pine and nomadic beauties in tattered clothes were reminiscent of centuries of deprivation and exploitation we have been living through.
Let me say again, for children in the city of resistance, ‘every color had a tale to tell- different tinges told different stories. Shades of dawn and dusk had not same meaning to us as they had for Children in the free world. The rapidly changing colors at sunrise and sunset did not gratify our aesthetics but filled our hearts with fears- it has been so for centuries. I and my peers like our fathers and forefathers liked to watch redness of sky at sunset but it never made us happy – it was seen as harbinger of more bloodshed of innocents. The thick dark clouds hovering over tall pine trees and shading the white peaks for us did not augur well.
Like all other boys in my part of city, I too shared age-old belief that “weeping sky” as we called the sky cast with dark clouds, heralded arrival of yet another marauder and desperado.
The large-billed crows that we called as “Devkaw” visited city during winters in large numbers. These were for being dark black from beak to tail were different from the house crows having the forehead, crown, upper breast glossy black and neck and breast lighter brown. During our first sojourn in the hills, we saw the dark-billed crows in the natural habitats. In our childhood, Devkaws were considered as inauspicious birds – reminding of corvee when these used to feast on men dying out of starvation on their way to Gilgit. On seeing them perching in large numbers on arcades of pine trees and cawing in unison, I was frightened.
I remember, as we moved on towards Kounsarnag it started raining and we took shelter under canopying rock. It is a lovely sight to see the nomadic shepherds and flocks of sheep taking shelter under rock-canopies during sudden downpours. The track to the lake is dotted with such shelters. The rains during summers are very brief- in facts the rains and sun play hide and seek at these highest. Taking shelter under rock-shelter was helpful to us. the shepherd with his flock under the rock gave us some useful advices about the lake- one do not go near the lake as the demon in the lake like an octopus can drag you deep inside the lake and two do not try to ride on the icebergs floating on the lake.
Like many other springs and lakes, Kounsarnag is also woven in mosaic of myths- some part of grand mythology of the land dating back to the times of the Satisar and some conjured by the nomadic bakerwals and passed on from generation to generation.
It was love at first sight, on seeing turquoise jewel – as the lake looked like nestled in the bosom of snow-covered mountains. What excited us the most were floating icebergs in the lake- it was for the first time that my friends and I saw scores of icebergs floating like planks of wood on icy waters. I dreamt of floating on one of the icebergs like mythical goddess that is believed to have floated on as big as gondola to far-off Gangabal lake. Fearing the demon we dared not to go down to the lake to touch its water but preferred to sit against a big bolder at good height. My friends and I had no idea about the depth of the lake, but we believed that the lake is infested by demons as gospel truth. It was much later that I learnt that “2900meters long and 750 meters wide” lake was about thirty to forty meters deep at the centre- but never had an opportunity to visit the lake once again.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 9 Mar 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 9 Mar 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 10 Mar 2013 00:00:00 IST
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