Yes, No, May Be So
is a factual story of one of the most alert and physically the strongest school
boy-swimmers and boaters who spurned the idea of learning to jump into the river
Jehlum by stages before attempting to jump from the highest tower of the massive
school building till one got control over one's nerves for other competitors as
the last Jumper.
the interval of turn-by-turn jumping, he is scared and frightened by conflicting
thoughts and the horrendous sight of the vast expanse of an abysmal void visible
from the top of the tower. His whole body trembles, Quite stealthily, he runs
down stairs only to be trapped by curious', prying eyes of his class and school
mates in the big hall like class-room of his, the site of the 40ft high jumping
ego is on trial. The sentiment of self-regard compels him to take his position
on the jumping pad in a horizontal row of a group of four jumpers each. But his
nerves fail him. His legs tremble, his feet refuse to move an inch.
ordeal comes, "Are you ready Jump."
rest follows in the text of the story.
I AM BRAVE
of curious people have assembled along the river banks, on barges and doonga-roofs
and, on the II and III bridges on the Jehlum river, flanking on either side of
our palatial building, to witness and watch something happening.
is Thursday, the weekly, regatta seasonal, Visitor's day for tourists from
European countries. Quite a variety of gala dressed ladies and
smart-looking gentlemen, wearing goggles and cameras, grace the school and
get entertained on these days.
recreation period, physical drill, gymnastics, boxing, tumbling, horse acrobats,
high and board jump, pole-vault, ladder climbing, pole-sliding, single sticks
and what- not, are over.
school children rush to occupy their seats in different verandas, windowsills,
roofs etc. facing the river
Shanker Koul takes his position on the high, bund-wall of the temple compound,
across the river with a megaphone in hand.
preparations for diving from 10ft. jumping from 20', 30’ and 50 ft. into the
river are in full swing.
have to begin from the beginning till they become fearless to jump from the
topmost stage. (50ft high).
am one of the strongest swimmers and topmost. Boaters, I have swum across the
biggest fresh-water Wular Lake in Asia and also, several times from
Nishat bridge across the Dal Lake, through the then fast flowing Dal gate, down
river Jehlum the III bridge (F.K) in Srinagar, a distance of about twelve miles
a robust, stout youngster. I am brave and quite muscular, Am not I? Yes, I am! I
must jump from the topmost stage. Haven't I climbed up giant walnut trees with
one end of the sleeves of my long pheran close knotted? Haven't I crawled on its
branches, picked up walnut, and stored them in the sleeves.
Haven’t I come down them with sleeve and almost pheranful loads of
walnuts hanging own and swinging on my neck?
more courage and boldness is needed for the topmost jump? I am quite brave and
surely equal to the task, I am brave! I boosted myself with My ego blurs my
vision and, my pride blunts my imagination joining the competitors, I quietly
undressed myself. A long rope with a cork-stuck, cap of cane on one end is
supplied to all the competitors of the topmost two stages. The free end of the
rope is tied to the waist of each one as a precautionary measure for rescue work
in case of mishap.
bird rooms with a sky like domed-ceiling, painted by my father in my presence,
as a little child of four or five queue is the venue for forming a queue of
took my position in the queue near the entrance door. Clearance of the first
three stages took some time.
the intervening period an imperceptible wave of fear began to seep into my,
otherwise very strong, nerves.
mind refused to concentrate on the task ahead. I wandered into other realms of
thought, real or imaginary and into the dangers involved.
am a brave boy! Why should fear penetrate into my very nerves? Why should it
shake up my bold nature? Yes, certainly, I am a stout, bold, lad! but….
but…. but…. If I were really so brave, as I think, I am, why should I have
shirked sliding down, the sliding poles which all other boys do? I have had slid
down them only rarely except, climbing them half way and then sliding down for
the fun of it all.
this however, I am certainly a brave, robust lad and very bold at that. I must
jump the topmost stage, here and now". I said to myself.
first boy in the queue is asked to climb to the projecting roof, walk up to its
very edge and to stand there to await the orders. A flash of fright grips, my
mind! What would happen if he stumbles over the hot iron roof?" I
argue with myself. "If a projecting nail pricked into his foot, he is bound
to roll and slip down, the slippery blood! He will certain by have a serious
fall down fifty feet." I thought to myself The more I ruminate and ponder
over it, the more nervous and panicky, I become.
the order; "Are you ready?….jump" from across the river.
boy jumps and the second boy take his turn. I tremble near the door I look
southwards and am over-awed by the sight of a long stretch of a gorge-like
ravine up to the very Raj-Gharh palace of Maharajah Hari Singh. I certainly
could not stand the frightful sight.
I whisked off down stairs. But alas! I was trapped there too in our big
classroom amongst dozens of classmates and other spectators. No longer could I
escape jumping. For, it meant loss of face and a severe jolt to my pride. I was
one of two groups of four jumpers, I stood on the jUp1ping plank still
trembling. "Are you ready? jump" came the order from the famous, lion
of a headmaster Pt. Shanker Koul.
of the group jumped all right. But my legs failed me at this critical moment!
They refused to budge an inch! I felt, as if I was hooked to the jumping pad! I
sweated and was embarrassed. My very soul was shaken!
no, I dare not "bear, ever being called a Brave Coward! Physically
well built, I was veritable a symbol of strength and bravery.
I not the only, non-boatman, teen-ager over to have taken his parents in a boat
for an outing from Habba Kadal to the Dal lake? Haven't I steered ferry boats,
carrying pilgrims from Soura Ghat, across the Anchar lake, up the Sind river to
Ganderbal. Haven't I steered even big doongas, leaving the boatman free to tow
them up the river Jehlum, back to Srinagar, from Tulamela Shrine with our
family? All these factual experiences of mine flash-film through my mind almost
in an instant. For, my honor was at stake!
I made up my mind not to retreat a second time on the same day. I gathered up my
nerves. Slowly and steadily I moved my body forwards,
till the vertical line through my C.G. Pell
outside my feet and I fell down and down into the river below. A big splash of
water was produced making a deep depression with high ripples circling off. I
went deeper and deeper into water, comfortably and pleasantly as I did in air.
My breath stopped during the process till I was pushed up again by force of
buoyancy. What an enjoyable experience it was after all!
cheers awaited to greet us when we buoyed up and swam ashore triumphantly. I
stutted along with pride and gust as nobody seemed to have noticed my miserable
plight on either of the two occasions during the episode.
am brave ! I am bold !
I not? Yes, No, may be so !
I not brave?
I really brave?
I look brave?
Note: Pheron is a long robe worn by Kashmiris.