Saturday, 1 June 2013

Is it the same Chitravati?


KVRK Bhargav

Bhajans ended and I was walking back on a warm Sunday evening back home, when some one called my name from behind. It was a familiar voice which had echoed in my ears many years back. I turned around to see that it was my classmate who had been erased from my memory due to his not coming to Parthi since we passed out in 2001. He came and hugged me tightly in his characterstic style, we exchanged pleasantries and he asked me to accompany him for a walk. We just came out of Ganesh gate when he burst  forth in excitement, "Let us go to our beloved river Chitravati." He had a child like enthusiasm in his eyes. He immediately got transported to that last few months of our MBA course when we once went for a bath to the Chitravati. He said with a gushing nostalgia, "You remember, how we enjoyed that Sunday when Warden sir took us to the Chitravati for a bath walking through the lush green fields behind the Sai Geeta shed." I nodded with a slight disagreement trying to show him that things are no more the same. He continued, " Remember,  I taught you how to swim in waist deep water all the while holding your hand to wade against the strong current of water.

We were already deep into the Chitravati road and he in the course of conversation noticed the long shadows cast by the tall buildings standing on either side of the road. "Hmm.. urbanization has caught up with Parthi", he commented, gazed for few moments at the tall rise of buildings but the exhilaration to have a look at Chitravati overpowered him again and  he fell back to that Chitravati experience. I was surprised at the graphic details he remembered in his description.
We crossed many shops and later some apartments with almost all of them having Sai as the prefix in their names. Just a few metres from the end of the Chitravati road a big board read ' Way to Kalpavruksham' and a long flight of cement steps got lost in the concrete jungle. The enthusiasm increased in him after remembering that both the Kalpavrukham and Chitravati had a very special role in the exploits of Swami. “You remember,” he added, “we climbed up that day to the our beloved wish fulfilling tree and had a bird’s eye view of the Chitravati flowing gracefully through the valley of Parthi.” I recollected that spectacle. Chitravati expressed many emotions in its journey through Parthi. Sometimes it was gurgling, unable to contain the  enthusiasm and joy of having been associated with the avatar, while at some other times it flowed with lot of gravitas, deeply pondering on the great good fortune which has come its way or sometimes gently caressing those sand dunes with reverence, in whose lap God did all His leelas.
Finally, we reached the end of Chitravati road and his excitement was palpable anticipating to see the beloved Chitravati after a gap of twelve years.
I carefully observed his expressions. He stood transfixed with a face turned lifeless and an expression of utter horror in his eyes. There was a vast expanse of barren land, with a pool of black water at one corner perhaps the remnants of the scanty rainfall in the monsoons, with a group of pigs enjoying a Jacuzzi in it and few dhobis washing some white clothes in that water at the far side. The embankments were embellished by the rubble of the mushrooming construction activity in Parthi and the plastic waste produced by the Puttaparthites. Few stray dogs were resolving their issues with a vehement fight. A tractor was ready for its journey to a nearby building with a cartload of that legendary sand which witnessed myriad leelas and pranks of our Sai Krishna. The once full river bed of Chitravati had deep scars of the wounds inflicted by the denuding of its sands for the urbanization of Parthi(I am guilty of living in one such dwelling). A thin stream of untreated waste water of this spiritual town, untreated due to the non- functioning of the water treatment plant, was flowing on the river bed with a hope that the holy touch of the blessed sands will purify this polluted water. Only a small patch of land was spared to facilitate the smooth journey of departed souls, where the pyres jostled for the little space available.
Tractor ready to carry the hallowed sands
We walked along the river downstream towards the bridge with words suddenly dried up and a disquieting silence taking its place.  All his enthusiasm vanished and his expression was a concoction of disbelief, anger, sadness and empathy.

He saw on the other side of the bridge a small chain of shops bustling with activity. He looked for a long time in that direction when I broke the uneasy silence, “It is so sad that we have a chain of shops selling
Waste from this market dumped into Chitravati

non-vegetarian stuff just outside the city limits of this sacred town of Parthi. Unfortunately, all the waste of that market is thrown into the Chitravati. It is generally very busy on Sundays.” There was again a long silence and he shattered it when he blurted out, “How can we allow this to happen to the hallowed legacy of Bhagwan? Can’t we do anything about it?” knitting his eyebrows, slowly coming to terms with this bitter truth about the present state of affairs.
We turned back to retrace our steps when the small kalpavruksham hill was in front of us. He took some extra effort to spill out some words, “How is the kalpavrukham now, is it also in the same condition?” and tried to have a glimpse of the tree through the thick foliage. I replied, “The wish- fulfilling tree got completely destroyed in a thunder storm in May 2011 with only a small branch left of that legendary tree.” He shrugged his shoulders in frustration, when I quickly added, “Life is an endless hope with god, when all thought that this hallowed tamarind tree will not survive, it shot forth new shoots and leaves last monsoon. Now, these shoots have multiplied into a strong branch with lush green leaves. It is a joy to behold this tree now.”
The rejuvenated Kalpavruksham

His sagging morale got the much needed boost; his eyes got back some life. “Can we see it from here?” he asked with a twinkle in his searching eyes riveted on the Kalpavrukham hill. I also followed suit when there was a slight breeze and in the breeze, I showed him the strong branch of this beloved tree of the Lord dancing to the tune of wind and singing the symphony of life.

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