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Jamunia

Subtly she sings, her tone a murmur, carrying
An aura upon her skin, unwavering, enchanting
And brushes along the shores, ever waking
To glorious mornings, and ever shimmering
On pleasant evenings, since time’s beginning.

Subtly she sheds her satin, a fair lady treading
Down the vale, where leaves form her bedding
And dreams of younger days, her thoughts flowing
Tireless but patient, tender but bold, reminiscing
Of distant past, where shores in greens lie dancing.

Subtly she dons a veil, dark and menacing
To the eyes that see naught but riches, unbecoming
And tramples along the shores, taking everything
To the sea, biting, gnawing, deceiving, unforgiving
For she is worth not in possessing, but in being.

Jamunia (or Jamuniya) is a river flowing from the village of Mandai, across the buffer zone of Kanha Tiger reserve, and uniting Banjar River in Bhimlat, in the southern district of Balaghat, which then joins River Narmada in the district of Mandla, in the state of Madhya Pradesh. It is a small river, carrying slurry of shimmering mica and fine sand at some places, and rocks polished into pebbles in others. She has seen the kingdoms of the Gond and the Marathas, and quenched the thirst of tigers in the long gone era. Along her course she feeds rice and wheat, bathes people, and is a source of nutritious diet of fishes for the locals. Along her course, she is also witness to over-dredging of sand. I have seen her flowing subtly – almost singing, I have seen her reduced to a trickle, and I have seen her wrath during floods, as have all her children. She is just another river I cross over every day, but she is special in her place as are all the rivers of the world.

Riverine ecosystems are most exploited because of their basic natural riches; fertile lands and waters. Dinosaurs roamed and died by rivers, civilizations rose and fell along rivers; and man exploited this element as if he owned her. Jamunia, for all her length and breadth, is one of the few lucky and rather untouched ones, treading along her own way wherever she may roam. I wish I could say the same for every river in the valley, but the point is that we depend upon them so hopelessly that we have lost the sense of respect for them. What we do now is exploit rivers, the mother of human civilizations, in the name of development and blind faith.

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