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… Namami Brahmaputra,

Kabhi shaant bahe kabhi rudra,

Pal pal mein ek naya chitra,

O Zindagi ke sakha

Yu he behna,

Dur hai shristi,

Brahma tere pita  …

    When the end gets nearer, life gets dearer, childhood comes closer and memories get thirstier. The song brings about wild nostalgia and takes me back in time, some 45 to 50 years when I used to sojourn in Guwahati circuit house, located near the High Court, on the banks of mighty Brahmaputra while driving down from Shillong, then capital of Assam, on my way to Kolkatta with my Parents. So, one can’t help but reminisce those wonderful times after hearing this beautiful song cranked by Mr Bachchan. I was very young then …

    I had not seen the mighty sea, but yes I was seeing the powerful Brahmputra in its shaant and rudra expanse as the song goes. The view from the circuit house was just tantalizing. Each morning as I woke up, I used to rush to the lawns and thereafter run to the railings that divided the circuit house from the long and wide embankment of the river.  As the sun rose, one could see herds of cattle flocking around the shore for water and pasture and their herdsmen, with their long crooks on their shoulders singing those folksongs, perhaps to please the rising sun. A few bare feet—bare chested Deswali milkmen too, passed my sight with their soiled dhotis tied around their slender waist. Generally in conversation, trying to describe the might of the river, while comparing it with the humble brooks in their distant village in faraway states.

    Even, when, it was hazy. From the embankment one could get a vivid view of the lush green Uma-Nandi islet, located in the centre of the river. It had tall trees and a few boats anchored around. From a distance, it appeared as a humble abode for some rural families involved in small time farming. Where, one could distinctly hear, calls of languri bandars (monkeys) coming from there, that could be heard right up to the rooms of the circuit house. The fierce flow of the river made that rhythmic splash at regular intervals, when it hit the shore, while it kept under wraps, its strong undercurrents. Something, that we humans also need to learn. To keep our raucous mood swings under check.

    All around there were hills and hillocks some tall and some not so tall. At a distance one could see a flurry of dinghies and even a couple of ferries carrying people across. By now the sun had arched up and its mirror image could be seen in the river water. The entire panorama is still so fresh in my mind as if it was captured by some high pixel camera about half a century ago.

    I jumped the railings to be on the other side of the circuit house that gave me a feel as if I had touched the river. But the flow of water was still at a distance. From here it looked blue and foamy. I walked the distance and up to the shore without anyone noticing me. Where, I dipped my hands to finally touch Brahmaputra. He was cold. Yet he was the biggest warmth around, for the civilisation. The passing herdsman yelled at me to get back, as the river had strong undercurrents. Meanwhile, his carefree children raced across to me. They appeared ace swimmers. The elder one jumped into the river and swam for a while. The others pointed their fingers towards the circuit house. ‘Yes I’m from there.’ I said. They clapped and asked for some money to buy ‘chanajor garam’ early in the morning. They were four so I gave them eight annas. And they immediately ran away, thinking, I might ask them to return the money as there was no one selling chanajor early in the morning. But soon I saw them at a close by tea stall.

    I waved and they waved back. Soon I was immersed in my own thoughts. Why are some places so beautiful and some so ugly? Why can’t fishes be out water and live with me? Why can’t I walk through the water and go to Uma-Nandi to see those langurs? Why do I need to always do, what others tell me, and not what I want to do?

    Suddenly, I could hear the voice of my Dad’s office boy. He was darting at me, finding me alone and that too on the banks of such a powerful river. The serene and enchanting morning was thus over but it had left a mark in me. I wish I could carry the mighty Brahmaputra with me in my pocket was the last thought.  


     Namami Brahmaputra is the biggest river festival of India. It was organized across 21 districts in Assam from March 31-April 4, 2017. Brahmaputra is the only male river by name in India and the fifth most powerful river of the world with very strong undercurrents.


By Kamlesh Tripathi


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A day with Dad


    I knew for sure. This ever changing world around me will only change further. But I just didn’t know how much. Ever since you left us on this very day many years ago. I have stayed away from Lucknow. And after many years I’m home around this time. Thinking, I would sight the changing times myself. So, on this serene and dismal morning I went out for a morning walk. Pursuing, quite the same route. That, you once frequented. And it gave me a feel as if I was following the same trail that you had left behind.

     To be frank. I wasn’t surprised when I saw. The old surroundings had really sprung up to the hilt, leaving no niche for that stilly calm. The flow of river Gomti has receded and it isn’t what it used to be in your times. It has thinned down. Like the plait of an ageing lady. The chirping Gauraiyas are nowhere to be seen. And no one knows where they have gone. Did you see them by any chance? Did they come to you? Meanwhile some Gods have grown in stature but some remained where they were. The temple of Hanuman Setu has exalted both in pomp and spirits, just like you. But the small Shivalaya near the banks has only greyed. It still emanates of that salt and pepper looks. The overarching, Banyan tree there, has spread all around the Shivalay. As if, protecting, the God of the poor, residing in it. That reminded me of the days when you protected all of us.

     The chauraha has become quite psychedelic as everything out there has changed. The famous samosawalla—Phullu who had his makeshift shop in the middle of it is nowhere to be seen—the samosas are there but the walla has changed. No one knows where he has gone. Some say he is no more. One, Good Samaritan has converted her home into an institution. I wish. Many were like her.

     The chauraha gossips are no more vociferous. The morning newspapers have swapped positions and with that even the feel. From Swatantra Bharat it is now Dainik Jagran and some others. What has grossly depleted over the years is ‘time.’ People don’t have time but enough to whine. Where, morals have declined.

    Even in the faint trickle and rustle of the holy river. I could hardly hear the serenading calls of those joyous koel in the colourful months of spring. That used to be so piercing earlier. It has now been overtaken by the roar of the swarming vehicles thriving on the embankment. That sadly pollutes the vicinity, all along the scorching day. Lots of people walk up to the newly resurrected Mandirs, Ashrams and even a Masjid nearby for peace of mind. Perhaps, someday, their temples within, shall also kindle to the call of the Almighty.

    Most bright children in and around have left for good. I now only find their parents whiling away their time in obsolescence. Is when, I wonder what I got from you and what I gave to my child. If the equations are not comforting peace shall always elude me.

    So much has changed over the years. Yet a few things haven’t changed. Just as, the day and night take their turn. The sun still rises and the rain comes when it has to come. Seasons too, alternate when they have to. But more importantly the chord we struck during our lives will never ever change.

    What I continue to learn from you is, pillars should not change. But they should allow  the change.

    May, you rest in peace.

    By Kamlesh Tripathi: Homage to Babuji (K.P. Tripathi). He left us this day in 1984.






I was young then. My uncle used to stay in Niralanagar, a posh colony of Lucknow. That was not very far from my home. He had an adjacent neighbour. Who, happened to be a Flight Lieutenant with the Indian Air Force. His name was Palta. Attached to the transport squadron and posted in Bakshi-ka-talab, the defence airport, of Lucknow. His chic and suave wife was Rita. Good looking. And, quite in line, with the upbeat image of the armed forces wives.

    He often used to pilot the morning flight at 7 a.m. to Guwahati. It used to take him about five to six hours. Because, enroute, he used to off-load cargo at Bagdogra airport in West Bengal. Next day he used to return in the same manner from his sojourn. Where, he normally used to take-off from Guwahati at seven. And, after touching Bagdogra again, he used to reach Lucknow by around 1 P.M.

    I often used to go to my uncle’s house those days, to meet my cousins. He had a huge terrace in his house. Where, we used to go and play. And, whilst, on the terrace, I often used to notice Rita aunty, sitting in one corner of the terrace alone with her umbrella open under the hot sun. I used to wonder why. But I never bothered to ask.

    One day, when the suspense became unbearable. I decided to break it. So I asked, ‘Aunty, why do you come and sit under the hot sun?’ she smiled at me and asked.

    ‘Who are you?’

    ‘Well, I am Bina’s cousin. I often come here, to spend time with her. But each time I came here. I saw you sitting in that corner with your umbrella, under the hot sun. So, I thought of asking you.’ She looked at me and smiled and then said.

    ‘I must say you are very observant beta. I’m waiting for your uncle. He should be coming any moment now.’ And with that she grinned again. I didn’t quite understand what she meant. I began to mull, ‘waiting for uncle and that too on the terrace in the peak of summers.’ It really wasn’t making any sense.

    ‘But is he going to fall from the sky that you’re waiting here aunty?’ I asked a bit loudly. She laughed in amusement.

    ‘You want to see him coming?’

    ‘Yes aunty.’

    ‘Then just wait here.’

    The suspense was beginning to get more interesting. So I decided to wait. Even when it was lunch time and I was hungry. After about ten minutes. I could hear the faint sound of an approaching aircraft. Soon, it grew louder. Is when, aunty stood up and closed her umbrella, and started waving it, at the aircraft. That was now descending on the nearby airport and wasn’t very high. Is when, I saw. The pilot had dipped the left wings of the aircraft. And after a little while it vanished behind the tall trees. Skyscrapers had not come up by then. After the sound of the aircraft subsided, she looked at me and said. ‘That was uncle.’ I asked.

    ‘How do you know Aunty?’

    ‘Didn’t you see? He dipped the wings of the aircraft. Until, it went behind the trees. That signal was for me.

    ‘Aunty, but why did he do that?’

    She smiled again and said, ‘Beta to announce his arrival. Now I need to go and cook for him.’

    ‘And what will you cook?

    ‘That’s a good question. If he dips the left wings, it would mean non-veg. Right would mean veg. And, if he doesn’t dip, either, that would mean no lunch. So bye! For now as I need to go and cook.’ And with that she went away.

    I was dazed for a moment. I too went down for lunch. And after about forty five minutes. I could hear the sound of Mr Palta’s bike.

    Many years have passed since then. I don’t even know where Mrs Palta is. But, I could never forget this small and sweet incident that reflects so much about her love and concern for her husband. And, last but not the least. How they learnt to communicate from the sky, with each other—like in semaphores. When, mobile phones were not even invented.