Ask a Guwahatian what would he miss the most outside Assam? You may get a myriad range of answers. But whenever, this question is asked to me, pat comes the reply. Brahmaputra or the Burha Luit (Grand Old River). There is something unbelievably mystical about this river. Starting from the Himalayas in Tibet, flowing through the heart of the great Assam valley, joined by the Ganges in Bangladesh and finally flowing into the Bay of Bengal... it has a journey which resembles any man's including mine. Although my journey has to go a long way still!
My earliest recollection about the river was as a child when I used to go to it's Ghat with my late grandfather to watch the fisherman go about their early morning catch of fish. The sight was magical! The sights of so many fish boats floating about on the river waters, which were again bathed in the blood red rays of the rising sun gave forth an unbelievable feeling to it. It was as if the river had come alive from a deep slumber. Watching the boats hold their own against the torrential waves of the merciless river was a sight in itself. My grandfather had once told me how he as a youth had a narrow escape from getting drowned in the river. The river, for him, was a merciless demon which took away more lives than it used to give to the Assamese people. For him, it was the Blood River! This I realise every year when the Brahmaputra's torrential floods cause havoc throughout the state. And watching the flood waters creep into my home as well every year made me aware of this.
The Old Blood River may have given many people jolting memories, but for me it was this river which taught me what being strong means! Ever since my childhood, I had always wanted to swim across this mighty river. But till date it has never happened because I know the Luit's strong currents are waiting to suck me into them. All my skills as a swimmer melt away the moment I realise this. Whenever I sit down by the river Ghat in Guwahati, I get the peaceful feel that I cannot get anywhere else on earth. But then again, I always feel that the merciless River God is laughing at me amd saying,"So chap! When are you going to conquer me after all?" This feeling of insignificance has always raged a storm inside that has actually made me overcome my other fears. Afterall, if I dont conquer my other fears, how will I ever face the merciless Luit when it challenges me the next time. In my quest to face the Luit boldly, I actually went ahead to conquer most of my fears, which in turn made me stronger from the inside.
But under all this cloak of ferocity, I know there is also a much calmer and sensitive side to this river. The sight to watch the sunset by the Brahmaputra is a sheer joy! It is during these moments that I feel the river whisper to me,"Hark you chap! Sometimes it pays to be ferocious. But never lose touch with the more calmer self in you. Afterall, that is what you really are." The Old River never lets me forget that under the wild insensitive creature that I portray before the world, there is a fellow who just loves his quiet moments and would not trade them for any strength in the world. Bloody old river! On one side it challenges the wild side of me to conquer it. And then again it keeps reminding me the virtues of patience and calmness.
Perhaps it is waiting to be conquered by me. It is only making me stronger with each encounter. Afterall, Brahma's son choses its challengers very cautiously. Just wait you old demon! I will get even with you someday...