Folk Tales from Kashmir

Table of Contents

  Index
  Foreword
  Dedication
  Preface
  Introduction
  Twin Scientists
  Daddy’s Distress
  Breaking the Horse
  She is the Apple of My Eye
  Daddy’s Coronation
  The In-Law Tussle
  Broken Pen
  The Dudda
  Daddy’s Nightmare
  Rise and Fall
  Rivalry and Rebuff 
  Mini Marco Polo
  Royal Dudda
  Facing the Challenge
  Yes, No? May be So
  Crest Fallen
  Psychic-Clash
  Shock Treatment
  Grandma’s Shivratri
  Conquering Death
  Prickly Thistle
  Book in pdf format

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir

Milchar

Symbol of Unity

 
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Chapter 15

Yes, No, May Be So

This 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.

During 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 pad.

His 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.

The ordeal comes, "Are you ready Jump."

The rest follows in the text of the story.

I AM BRAVE

Throngs 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.

It 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.

Brief 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.

The school children rush to occupy their seats in different verandas, windowsills, roofs etc. facing the river

Pt. Shanker Koul takes his position on the high, bund-wall of the temple compound, across the river with a megaphone in hand.

All preparations for diving from 10ft. jumping from 20', 30’ and 50 ft. into the river are in full swing.

Novices have to begin from the beginning till they become fearless to jump from the topmost stage. (50ft high).

"I 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 or more.

I am 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?

What 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. 

The 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 topmost jumpers.

I took my position in the queue near the entrance door. Clearance of the first three stages took some time.

During the intervening period an imperceptible wave of fear began to seep into my, otherwise very strong, nerves.

My mind refused to concentrate on the task ahead. I wandered into other realms of thought, real or imaginary and into the dangers involved.

"I 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.

Despite 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.

The 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.

Come the order; "Are you ready?….jump" from across the river.

The 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.

Stealthily 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 on trial!

Joining 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.

Three 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!

But no, I dare not "bear, ever being called a Brave Coward! Physically well built, I was veritable a symbol of strength and bravery.

"Am 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!

Instantaneously, 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!

Thunderous 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.

I am brave ! I am bold !

Am I not? Yes, No, may be so !

Am I not brave?

Yes.

Am I really brave?

No.

Don't I look brave?

Maybe so!

Foot Note: Pheron is a long robe worn by Kashmiris.

 
 

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