Kasi in my Nightmares

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The train ran at its pace. Trees, huts, ponds, roads, bridges, cows and buffaloes: all ran backwards. It kept raining throughout the day, over hundreds of kilometres, from U.P. to Maharashtra to A.P. All was green on that side of the window, downwards on the plane joining my sight-line with the horizon. Upwards, all was brown-grey-black. I kept clicking for my weblog for some time (the purposiveness of the process was something new to me, it had a new feel in it), engulfed my breakfast and lunch and went for a longish nap.

I was in Kasi. I was looking at the ghatscape from a very uncharacteristic point: mid-rThis iver. As a confirmed non-swimmer for all those parts of my life spent out of Gangaji or pools and as a dog pedlar for the rest of it I made it a point never to enter a boat and I clearly remember having entered  it only thrice- twice with friends and once with family. My dream suddenly took a nightmarish turn and ended with my walking under Malviya Bridge on a four lane road – marked and all.

I could recognise the ghats with red brick buildings on the ghats. They can be seen just before Raj Ghat. There were some dreams like alteration in the structure but they were recognizable : so were the people on the ghats. No, I am not exaggerating . I remember the details because I revised the whole dream as I woke up and started writing it down within a few minutes from waking up. Moreover, the dream had some lucid parts in it too. There were some ochre wearing , long bearded and thick braided people, along with some common men and they all belonged to the ghats in the way that I unconsciously registered but can’t fully explain here.

The dream turned into a nightmare with the appearance of many long and broad platform like structures above Gangaji. Those platforms were from where started many bridges over Gangaji. They had created many parallel roads in the air. There had always been one: Malviya Bridge across the river, and it never looked threatening to me. It had become, what we call natural. There’s a specific mechanism for such kind of artificial to natural virtual conversions. It had always been there and we expected to see it there for our remaining days. The new construction was different in many ways. It made the river look subterranean. It insulted Ganga Mata, and her children, and it did so very arrogantly.

I don’t have the kind of dreams Freud would be interested in. My dreams are totally transparent: for me that is. I have been having these transparent kind of understandable dreams since my exposure to Freud’s tripartite structuring of the mind. This dream of mine had the recurrent motifs of Kasi and Gangaji in it. From my school days, I had a close relationship with Raj Ghat and its bridge. Their coming in my dreams is quite understandable, even predictable. My fear of Gangaji’s moving farther from the present ghatscape of Kasi and following the example of Chunar has been with me since I had seen the riverbank in Chunar. There was an architect friend of ours, Tushar, who had first mentioned the idea (his plan, actually) of the rise of an unbroken series of modern construction on the river front. I had crossed many dry or drying river spanned by bridges with many lanes of roads around and on the bridges. I clearly remember a well trodden and worn path at the very bottom of the bed of a rivulet. All these factors may help explain the final concoction.

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I fear losing my river. There are people with a similar fear. They are not similar to me in being men and women of action. They are fighting against the whole process of the so called development that threatens their river: their lives. I am not the type that stands and fights for causes. I’m the armchair variety of pseudos. Even I was forced to re-think. My river asked for my action: my bit of action to save it, to save me, in fact. There are mentions of many types of changes in the Purans. There’s an exhaustive list of socio-cultural ills. I don’t think I ever heard it mentioned there that in Kaliyug even Gangaji will be forced to leave Shivji”s beloved Kasi.

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