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Jhelum

October 3, 2014

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Meaning & Context:

Jhelum flows through mountains and valleys that are now divided. Enemies by birth, India and Pakistan share the river, for the course of its waters cannot be separated by human obstinacy. It flows through enemy lines unabated, in all its strength and grandeur, yet it seems to be now carrying within its waters the sorrows of a million hearts who have suffered on its shores.

It seems to be looking for its shore, a shore that it can call its own, which is not under the shadow of conflict. When will the war stop? When will there be peace? Jhelum seems to be asking the men on both sides.

Capturing these feelings is a song from the film Haider. The words by Gulzar and the haunting composition by Vishal Bharadwaj bring out the profound grief of the people of Kashmir, the city at the heart of the conflict. The song captures melancholy that has settled upon the valley like a thick sheet of snow.

I felt the opening lines of the song were deeply connected with the condition of the people of Kashmir. They seemed like lines that a lone boatman would hum rowing his boat over Jhelum from one shore to another. And so, I put them here.

They are saying that Jhelum, like a lost child, is looking for the right shore. The eyes that see the sun set in its waters fill it with their tears. The sweet water of the river is now saline. Jhelum is now a stream of sorrow.

Link to the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2yVDoMvyOc

Lyrics to the song:

Jhelum… Jhelum… dhoondhe kinara
Jhelum… Jhelum… dhoondhe kinara

Dooba suraj kin aankhon mein
Suraj dooba kin aankhon mein
Jhelum hua khara…

Translation:

Jhelum… Jhelum… searches its side
Jhelum… Jhelum… searches its side

In whose eyes does the sun set
The sun sets in whose eyes
That Jhelum turns saline

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