Born in the lap of the Himlayas, I have been flowing towards the sea for ages, through hills and valleys and planes by earning love and good wishes of all whom I meet on my long way. I am a river, a dancing maid, who knows not how to tarry for a while. When I was given this eternal flow I remember not, and when it will end is a mystery to me. This much I know that I was given my birth to serve the earth with her animate or inanimate creations. My life is a dedicated one, meant to purify the filth of the earth.
I wash and carry away the polluted articles, such as the smelly corpses of men and beasts, the wastages of oils and chemicals of the mills, and the excretory refuse of the towns and villages-all sorts of dirty accumulations from my both the banks. Still with a gay heart, I run and jump and sing my murmuring song, as I pass through the green paddy fields, dense forests or thickly populated inhabitations. The sky overhead protects me with its endless roof; the sun gives me his brightest rays, while the moon plays with me the game of tides : ebb and flow; the passing clouds shower their secret treasures on my hidden heart to make me happy.
I give shelter to the fishes and the aquatic animals; I give company to the innocent boatmen; I enjoy the music of the birds flying in the blue sky above, or settling on the flowing water-hyacinths on my broad bed . I welcome the soft rays of the setting sun that creates a beautiful glare on my little ripples, when the wind blows slowly. With sun rays I look different at day, and with moon rays mystic at night. I live and will live to continue my eternal journey with my ever youthful heart. River Ganges is a massive river in India, where I’m from.
So as a part of the Environment Contest, I write this piece Life as a river ain’t easy, especially when you start from an glacier which refuses to stop melting. Ganges here, River Ganges . . . I figure you might have heard of me sometime or the other. And yes, I am openly envied by all my other river-sisters. They’re pretty jealous actually, thinking of me as perennial, and never ending and all that rubbish. Well let’s get something straight like a strait, life as a river ain’t easy. I’m old, let me tell you that. So old that I forgot when I began, and I don’t forget.
I remember when the President took a nice cruise over me in 2009. I can tell you that it was 29th August. Well enough of that, now where were we? Yeah, I’m old. I began when several glaciers started melting. I had fresh water, and a faint smell of lilies were all there was to me. All along my banks, civilization began, trees grew, houses were built, families were made, and myths about me were told to one and all. I was worshipped by almost everyone. And that’s when it got horrible. I began to get bathed in; they thought that by bathing in me, they’d get “pure” souls and “peaceful” courses to Heaven.
All the good it did them, they could’ve just taken a bath with normal water. They sure were satisfied with themselves, but I, I was left to accept murky, sweaty, disgusting human bodies dousing themselves in me, and occasionally, defecating in me. But still, no one cared, and the other rivers, they only got more envious. They thought I was lucky that I got all the attention and said they’d trade places with me any day. Yeah, like I wouldn’t kill for that. Eventually, I had several marine animals and plants wishing to reside in my waters. And I didn’t mind it much.
I would love to have some sort of company in my waters. Then came another phase; humans began to wash clothes and their cattle in me. I mean yeah, I could handle them, they were hardly ever that dirty, but really, clothes and animals? I was just awestruck. When people washed their clothes, so much dirt was excreted. And the animals, they didn’t give a damn about the world! They’d poop all over the place. Rubbish absolutely! And don’t tell me I didn’t warn anyone, of course I tried to! If the fools are blind enough to mistake a hurricane as a sign of anger as a ‘natural disaster’, I say to Tartarus with them!
And when a tourist would come by, they’d bathe in my waters too! What audacity. I bet they have plenty of fresh, clean rivers in their country where they could bathe, why me? So I’d ask some of my water-bacteria to go and give them a prick to make them learn. And they’d go home green. And that glacier! It absolutely refuses to stop melting. Well nothing’s happening to it, but I’m getting flooded so quick that people fear living on my banks nowadays. Well I don’t mind that but . . . So I say, to everyone reading this, if you dare to come ‘purify’ your body in me, I’ll make sure that an eel wraps around your leg!
Ha! So that’s that then, this is River Ganges signing off, and be sure to spread the message! I am a river. I like to give you an account of my life. You may laugh to think what is the value of the autobiography of a river. You may laugh if you like. Men write their autobiographies. They have importance in their own way. I have importance in my own way. Birth and early careerI was born long ago in an obscure place in a mountain. Several very small streams of water joined together to form one bigger stream. That is how I was born. I am that bigger stream. I am restless from my birth. I cannot stay at one place.
So I flow down the mountain. I leap from one rock to another. I am full of life and vigor. As I flow down, I gather strength. My current is very strong here. I carry down with me broken rocks. At last I come down to the plains. My career in the upper plainsHere I begin to widen in my course. People begin to make use of my water. Here it is as pure as anything. In my upper course, people have built up towns of pilgrimage. They have built temples on my banks. Hundreds of people bathe in my sacred water. They worship the deities in those temples. They regard me as very sacred. There are also several health resorts in my upper course.
People from many parts of the country come there for a change. They walk on my banks. They enjoy the natural beauty. They recover their lost health and return home with a happy heart. My career in the lower plainsI have said before that I am very restless. I am constantly on the move downwards. Leaving the upper plains behind I flow down through the lower plains. My water increases the fertility of the fields on either side of my banks. Abundant crops grow there. The country become prosperous. Towns on my banksPeople have built large towns on my banks. Some of these towns are centres of culture.
Some have commercial importance. People carry on trade and commerce. They ply boats and steamers along my surface. These carry many important goods for trade. People travel from one place to another in boats and steamers. Hundreds of people bathe in water. They use my water for drinking and other purposes. Efforts to control meDuring the rainy season I carry large quantities of rain-water from the mountain. My surface rises. Sometimes I overflow the banks and cause flood. People suffer much. But am I to blame for this ? What can I do if huge quantities of rainwater flow down me from the mountain?
Your Government has now tried to control my furious nature in the rainy season. In my upper course sometimes I fall down several hundred feet from a great height. Here your Government has built barriers across me to hold back my water. It has built dams to store up the surplus water to irrigate the land to help agriculture. Electricity is also generated here with the power of my water. This electricity is cheaper. It helps industry in towns and even in remote villages. Thus you may see how I help you.
My career in the lowest courseIn this way I go on. I have no rest. Men may come and men may go, but I go on for ever. ” Your Government has tried to control my furious nature. But it is a very difficult task to control me always. Sometimes I play the part of a destroyer. I wash away my banks. I destroy towns and villages. Again I play the part of a creator. I carry down sediments. These are deposited in some places where the current is not strong. New land is formed there. This land is very fertile. This is done near about the place where I join the sea. Ports at my mouthI flow on to join the sea. This is my goal. This portion of my course is called my mouth.
People have built ports here. Factories have been built on my banks. This makes the country prosperous. But the factories do one great harm. In my upper course my water is very pure. But here the municipalities of the towns and the factories throw away all sorts of impurities into my water. This pollutes my water. I am not to blame for this. ConclusionThis is my life history. There is one great difference between men and me. I am constantly on the move to join the sea. Men are born and they die. I have no death. I will flow eternally. I will do great service to men. They should, therefore, remain grateful to me.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 17 November 2016
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