Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Boy and The Holy River- A story of Love, Loss and a Great Purpose

It had been less a year since the boy had begun to row boat in the river Ganges in the famous city of Benares in India.

The boy remembered floating paper boats in the roadside streams in rains while his father rowed the larger boat in the river. He had no mother or siblings. And one day his father went very far in the river but never returned. He didn’t go to school, but knew how to row boat; so he lent one, gave ride to tourists who gave him money in return.

The boy hated the river for she took away his father yet he depended on it to feed himself.

One day the boy sat on his boat crying heavily while a fellow boatman was trying to console him “The boat owner has beaten me again! He said if I don’t bring him back enough money, he’ll lent the boat to someone else and would throw me in the river to die just like my father. But the wicked tourists are so rare now-a-days.”

“Don’t worry! Diwali is near and in the night all people of the city and far beyond, go for boating. You’ll earn more than enough.” the boatman said, the boy looked at him; he was twice of his size and also stunk twice as much. He nodded. The boy impatiently waited for the day of Diwali for he hadn’t earned much money.

Finally the day arrived, the banks were more crowded than ever and there were more boats than he had ever seen. He waited eagerly for tourists to ride in his boat but boatmen older than him kept on pushing his boat far from the ghat*, so the boat was out of reach of tourists. It was getting dark and young girls and old women were floating earthen lamps in the river and on the ghats, the priests were worshiping the river, holding and moving lamps in clockwise circles in Aarti*, people were worshiping, clapping and carried the lamps in their boats. The chants were enchanting. It was a magical experience: whole river turned golden- red, the light slashed through the darkness of new moon night and lightened everything. The boy was so lost in the experience that he had almost forgotten why he was there, until a strange man with shaved head, deep eyes and saffron robs appeared, asking for a boat ride accompanied with a woman who also wore similar robes.

The boy rowed the boat with the man calmly sitting and woman cherishing the view. “It’s so enchanting Man of Wisdom!” she exclaimed. “This man is made up of flesh and blood, how can he be made up of wisdom?” the boy asked, looking confused. The woman laughed, the man smiled but the boy only got more confused.

“10 years ago when I came here for the last time, the city was less developed but the river was cleaner. The water was so clear that you could see the beautiful fishes and could drink the water but now it stinks” the man said. “Yes! The city is developed; they’ve even got pizzas here, traditional though. I bought one from a pizzeria on the ghat, it’s delicious!” the woman said in an excited tone. “Firangan*, come to my house and I’ll make dal-roti* for you, and you’ll forget the taste of pizzha.” the boy said defensively.

“The people from around the World come here to bathe in the river to wash their sins, drink, store and carry this water thinking it’d bring them good luck, pour it in the mouths of new born and dead ones citing it’d purify their bodies, use it to wash their idols thinking the Gods would be pleased, float lamps thinking that the river would grant them wishes and fulfill their desires and throw the remains of the dead ones thinking they’d go to heaven. This city is most ancient in the world and the river is the reason that people still flourish here. Half of Indians still live on its water. The whole Indian civilization exists because this river exists.” the man said looking blankly at distance, while the boy and the woman calmly listened.

After a pause, he continued “Yet these same people throw industrial waste, pour the drainage of cities, sewage from their homes, wash their animals, throw trash, submerge idols and dead bodies, wash their clothes, utensils, excreta and pollute the river. The water is unfit for irrigation let alone drinking.” Man of Wisdom said with moist eyes. On hearing this, the boy suddenly looked nauseated and dropped the oars. He was about to vomit in the river but Man of Wisdom turned his head and he vomited in the boat.

“You’re right. We call this river our mother yet rape it everyday. It gives us so much but we always want more and more.” the boy said sincerely. “Your City of Burning, Learning and Earning owes it all to the river.” Man of Wisdom said. “My mother was cremated on that Manikarnika Ghat” the boy pointed to one bank; “I learnt to row boat from my father there on Assi Ghat” the boy pointed in the horizonAnd earn mostly from boating around Dashashwamedh Ghat.” the boy said, that’s all he could make from Man of Wisdom’s statement.

“Do you want to do something for the river?” Man asked. “Yes! I won’t pee in it anymore!” the boy said, woman laughed but Man of Wisdom became serious. “You also drink its water and give it back, completing the cycle, eh?” he asked in a loud tone. “You know wisdom, you can’t control sometimes when you’re in the middle of the river and ghats are too far. But I’d do anything you’d say to save the river.” the boy said firmly.

“Paint your boat with positive messages and…” Man said; “It’s not my boat” boy said; “I’ll buy you one” the woman said. “OK but I can’t read, how would I know if the message is positive or negative?” the boy asked again. “Would you like to go to school? I also want to do something for the river; I’d stay and teach children here love the city and river. We’ll boat together, organize campaigns and ask other tourists and residents to help” the woman said. Both boy and Man of Wisdom nodded in affirmative.

They had come far in river where there were no other boats. It was all dark but the lamp in their boat was beaming, fighting with the wind and the darkness.

Three months later…
 “Can we three people really make the river Better, while millions still pollute it? What three are to millions?” the boy asked, looking depressed. They had bought a few boats, began a small school where children were educated for free and their families were avowed to protect the river and not to contaminate it. It was funded by the royalty from books, the profits from woman’s farms in Canada and the income from the boats. Soon Man of Wisdom’s disciples from around the planet joined the campaign and it also gained the support of local activists and enthusiastic tourists.

“All great things begin with small efforts. All big achievements begin with simple ideas and passionate people. Now from three we’re three hundred, soon we might become thousands and as the number of people who protect and clean the river increases, the number of people who pollute it decreases. May be one day everyone would care and no one would dare to pollute it. We live and work for that future.” Man of Wisdom said calmly and darkened the "WE" on an awareness poster he was making.

The boy on hearing this ran to his boat, abruptly he slipped on the stair of the ghat, rolled down and fell in the river, the water was deep as the boats were tied there. The boy was an excellent swimmer, but his shirt was stuck in an anchor on the river floor and despite his best efforts he couldn't swim above to breathe. He tried to scream for help but even more water filled his mouth. He was out of air and was suffocating badly, the darkness was filling his eyes and the sun, which was moving with movement of water above him, was slowly disappearing. "I'd meet my father" he thought. Suddenly a violent thrust of water caused by under water currents teared his shirt and threw him out of water, he caught the edge of the boat. He had learnt to read and he saw the writing on his boat:
The Mother always protect us, it's time we return the favor. 
He climbed over the boat, he only had a few bruises. Grateful, he bowed with folded hands and thanked the river: his mother. He was resolute, he'll do anything to protect her, like she just protected him and return the favor.

Meaning of Hindi Words used:
Benares: A prominent ancient city, on the bank of Ganges now known as Varanasi.
Ghat: Stairs on the river bank leading to river.
Aarti: A ritual of worship with lamps and songs, offered to a deity.
Firangan: Used here in the sense of a foreign woman.
dal-roti: Most simplistic Indian food.
 Assi, Manikarnika and Dashashwamedh Ghat : Three most important ghats in Varanasi.

Click: To know more about Ganges, the Pollution in Ganges and the ways to reduce pollution. To know more about the city of Varanasi and about Diwali: The festival of Light

PLEASE take some simple, small efforts to save our rivers. Spread positive messages, use recyclable products, use phosphate free detergents, don’t throw away trash, sign petitions for Govt to take actions, encourage any farmer of your acquaintance to not use pesticides or insecticides,  if you live near a river educate yourself and your children about the importance of protecting rivers.
If you like this story, then please share it with others.

Remember: It’s still in our hands to recover our rivers from most of the damage, 50 years later it won’t be possible. Then our children would struggles for fresh water and would blame us for ruining the water sources. According to most experts, third World War would be fought for water! With you small efforts, you can help in avoiding it.

Follow Man of Wisdom on Facebook or on Twitter or connect with Alok the guy who wrote the story: Alok on Facebook.

Till the next time, Keep Trailing on your Untrailed Path, Keep mesmerizing us with your amazing work and your passion to make the World better. Thanks.


marin said...

Beautiful story, though seems incomplete. i've been in varanasi and that para about use of ganga water is so amazing. now drainage pipes are openly fed in river. shame!!! gonna share this!

Prithi said...

i've red revolution 2020 by chetan bHagat. it's based on city and river. Bt it just describes it. can't wait till 2020 for change, it begins here with us. he puts sex and politics to sale books while u write abt things with a tuch of love, spirituality and philosphy on this blog which i think isn't read by mny ppl. ur the chetan bhagat india needs an deserves! publish books man of wisodm!

Karen said...

It's beautiful Alok! Who's the firangan? And u'd shave your head! :O My cosmologist boy has become a writer! :P hehe no one from our wwt group would ever believe YOU can write things like this, you were so logical and so boring. a walking encyclopaedia.
BUT HOW you gonna do everything? Fight cancer, "remove" despair, make apps for disasters and now save the rivers? You alone can NOT do everything. I know you'd say you can do anything buy NOT everything! Even man of wisdom can't do everything alone!
And take care of eye! use drop & wear glasses! you'd remain a careless idiot no matter how much "wisdom" you get :P plz TC :))

Alok Sharma said...

Thank you Marin. Yeah, I also saw those photos. The river is being ruined. It's now or never to save it. Thanks for reading and sharing.

Alok Sharma said...

Thanks Prithi, It's true, all revolutions begin with us and they begin right now. And as about Chetan Bhagat, well it's his way and this is mine way. He's a good writer, but I don't compare or condemn. I'm going to publish my first e-book very soon on kindle. read if you're interested, it'd be free. Thanks.

Alok Sharma said...

Well Karen, if you're so concerned about me and think that I alone can't change stuff then why don't you join hands and help? Two is better than one. Don't you think? Every time I see things that are wrong I feel an impulse to make them better else can't even sleep.
The eye is sort of better with a permanent eye drop for the rest of life in it to keep it controlled and um yeah I wear glasses everyday :)
Thanks, you too take care :)

julia said...

nice story alok! loved the connection between river and boy. yes, we need to save our water resources.
Love and light.

Karen said...

I turned vegetarian for you! 3 years ago you were just vegetaarian inclined now save-the-world inclined. And it was 2 in the night when i posted that comment, I waited for an hour but you didn't reply and when I went to sleep, you replied! hehe like always :P
I'm always with you in anything. Give me a task and I'll do it. Whay you need help with in the river cleanings? I'm at CalTech can ask so called experts.
P.S. I know when you lie boy, if you're Sherlock Holmes then I'm Irene Adler, one up on you! :P Wear glasses please, else I'd have to give my one eye :P You'd look weird with one blue and one black eye and I'd even worse with just one eye!!! yikes!

Anonymous said...

lovely story. keep it up :)

Niket said...

ganga nadi ke bina hamara desh samapt ho jayega. satya kaha mitra apne. jai ganga maiya

Anonymous said...

jai ganga mat ki

Jonathan Kaprin said...

GENIUS! Emotions ranging from tickling humor to tear inducing seriousness- beautifully portrayed, a great cause indeed- intelligently revealed, the river- beautifully described, the boy- mother-river relationship - just wow, the pollution and human faults, errors and ignorance truly pointed,wisdom about unity and oneness also there. Everything is in this very short story. Mark of a true genius, brilliant man. amazing.
You can't be in anyway 19 years old, unbelievable!
If you are then you're gifted and is a gift to the world and people. Please keep doing this so many people need you. You're God's gift. A Hero.
Keep doing this, please :)

James said...

The whole story was amazing but i liked this goodbye message even more
"Till the next time, Keep Trailing on your Untrailed Path, Keep mesmerizing us with your amazing work and your passion to make the World better. Thanks."

whhat a powerful message!!! plz plz plz PLEASE reply! it's one of my life goals to get a reply from you. I have three copies of your poem "Through the Dark Times" hung in my bathroom, bedroom and drawing room. It saved me from suicide. not a hero Jonathan man of wisdom's a superhero!!! plz replY for once!!!!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
karen said...

f*** you! He doesn't want publicity that's why he write with a pen name. He doesn't care what people think and he doesn't think like us. Don't judge Alok if you don't know him and looking at you, you certainly can't know him.

Alok Sharma said...

Whoever you are, I protect your Right to Free Speech to express your opinions, as long as you avoid profanity. I removed your comment because of the curse word. You can comment again and insult me or my work as much as you want without any obscene/vulgar/profanity.
Have a nice day.

karen said...

Alok! there's no point of being so nice to so bad rude people!!! nice guys finish last :p be nice to the other guy, he just wants a single reply from yo!!! PS wear glasses!! >P

Alok Sharma said...

Thanks for defending me, but watch your language; those asterisks don't hide anything, I'll remove your comment too!
PS Check your old WWT email. I mailed you a design about sewage treatment, it has a little hemispherical model, I couldn't figure out the curvature and other parameters, you're better in math, so solve it.
JOIN facebook! It's time consuming, misleading and irrevelant to converse here.
A man shouldn't change much, the Universe must also be allowed to execute its plans. I'll never wear them. Just 5 more years and I'm done with everything :)

karen said...

ALOK!!!!!! I HATE U!!!!! Anything and everything in your craziness is fine. Don't eat, don't care for youself, do cancer research, clean rivers and swim in sewages, say you're man of wisdom and deny next moment, write apps and learn programming languages, tire yourself in all your "learning" and meditation, be saint like, be ascetic, still don't mak3 a girlfriend, write quotations, poems, stories, books, be sherlock holmes, do space and cosmo research, ignore the people who care and cry for those who don't know u exist, make the world better. fkin anything is fine.VERY VERY MUCH FINE.

BUT NOT FOR A SECOND NEVER EVER AGAIN MENTION THIS F****** FIVE YEAR CRAP!!! For anyone YOU LOVE, your mother, father, brothers, family, that girl, for our friends, for me, for people u care about, FOR GOD'S SAKE. Please don't say this shit ever again.

i swear i'd never talk to u if u ever ever mentioned it, even for once. don't ever, please.
i care for you, don't break the broken heart again and again.That demise would be the end of everything, not just ur better world, but my world and a lot of people's world. everyone's world. please plz take care. lots of lots of love, care, hugs and smiles. xo :( :=( :)

amber said...

very valiant effort

patrick said...

I'm a marine biologist, using teleost histopathology to monitor marine polution. there are fishes that are badly being hurt due to pollution in ganges. but it's the same almost globally

Priya-cs said...

Really nice story!!!!
Keep up the good work Mr.Alok Sharma.
Your stories are truly inspiring.

Creative Commons License
Articles, Poems, Quotes, Stories and other content by Alok Sharma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.