The first rays of the sun, kissed the freshly harvested golden crops, making them glow brighter than the aureate dome of the revered shrine nearby.
Kuh refused to budge out of her deep slumber until the faint rhythmic beats of jubilation reached her. And then it sunk in!
“Oh no!” she sighed. “It’s that day again! How I wish to drown out these imbecile sounds which evoke the sorrow buried in my darkest depths.”
“Why grudge their happiness? Times change, people move on! That’s life!” said Kand.
“And you and I, we remain; stagnating with painful memories embedded deep inside us. Or have you forgotten everything? Unlike me, you did not have to devour the very lives you nurtured!” Cried Kuh.
“Forget? Can I?” Exclaimed Kand. “This deserted abode buzzed with bonhomie and good-will that day. I revelled in the the mixed array of pagdis, taqiyahs and Gandhi topis which adorned the expanse. The gentle April breeze gave wings to many a spirited veil, while colourful bangles jingled merrily in harmony.”
“Yes… the pitter patter of footsteps made me smile as the kids played hide and seek around my ample girth.”Kuh added. “Snowy white beards gleamed with pride sharing the wisdom they had amassed over the years.”
“Busy applauding the peaceful pledges to the motherland, I failed to see the assailants barging in.” Kand confessed.
“And I was lazily admiring the magnificent orange-red hues of dusk, oblivious to the grim crimson that would spill onto me soon.” Said Kuh.
“The festive beats were upstaged by a thunderous roar. Mayhem broke out; the firing ruthless, the screams agonizing, the wails gut-wrenching!” Reminisced Kand. “I braved the bullets, hoping to dampen the onslaught, but they kept coming. With the gates barred, people attempted to escape imminent death by crossing over me. I cursed my height, as many fell off my back. A protector turned murderer? I wished that I could crumble to dust and set them free!”
“Others rushed towards me, panicking.” Recounted Kuh. “Eager to comfort them, I let them in. I didn’t discriminate between the new bride decked in gold or the old widow who was pushed in by her dying son. Utterances of Hey Ram, Allahu Akbar, Wahe Guru Ji echoed within me as others took the plunge. I embraced them all. The tiny tot who found it a thrilling extension of his hide and seek game, shouted Jai Hind and jumped in too. I prayed that my waters would become the elixir of life for those in my belly.”
“The saffrons, the greens and the whites, all bled red!” declared Kand. “I live on with wounds agape but my heart still bleeds silently.”
“And my barren womb carries stifled shrieks and many an aborted dream.” Grieved Kuh.
The beats of the dhol ushering in Baisakhi grew louder, announcing a new year, while the doomed well and the cursed wall at Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar reverberated with the horrors of the massacre they had witnessed on April 13, 1919.
Author’s note:- The Jallianwalan Bagh tragedy needs no introduction. This write-up was influenced by the horrifying fact that when General Dyer ordered indiscriminate firing on an unarmed crowd gathered in the park, there were no escape routes. Since Dyer’s men blocked the narrow exit, people either ran towards the wall or jumped in the well to avoid the bullets.
It is believed that 120 bodies were recovered from the well.
One of the walls carries 36 bullet marks which can be seen easily even now.
Kuh:- a water well in Punjabi
Kand:- a wall in Punjabi
Taqiyah:- a short rounded skullcap worn by Muslims
Gandhi Topis:- a white coloured sidecap,pointed in front and back,having a wide band ,popularly worn during the Indian Independence movement.
Hey Ram :- a homage to God, by Hindus
Allahu Akbar:- a phrase meaning “God is great” used by Muslims
Wahe Guruji:-a word used in Sikhism to refer to God.
Dhol :- (here)double headed drum,percussion instrument used throughout the Indian subcontinent,popular in Punjab
Baisakhi:- festival of harvest in April
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