Srinagar, July 9: With Jhelum flowing above the danger mark following incessant rains, houseboat dwellers here have been facing a tough time from the last two days.
As one walks along The Bund in the city’s commercial hub Lal Chowk, the debris of a sunken houseboat grabs attention. Swelled Jhelum has almost pushed it on the land surface.
A few metres ahead, 85-year-old Khateeja sits on the facade of her houseboat even as she stares at the violently flowing river.
Her lips moving continuously, she prays for water levels to recede. She looks at the sky intermittently and recounts devastating 2014 floods.
Her grandson, 24-years-old Abrar Aalam hasn’t slept all night. Aalam, along with his father, brother and uncle were pushing and pulling their houseboat and tying it nearer to the shore and close to the other houseboat. They completed this restless exercise at dawn today.
With Jhelum flowing above the danger mark and faster than normal, additional to water, the mud color river brings with it many other things as it moves down the slope.
“Logs of wood, pipes and other heavy materials which if they hit the houseboat can cause irreparable damage,” Abrar says, as he blinks his eyes continuously to keep them open and alert.
Not only this, but not tying houseboats closer to the shore may result in the luxurious wooden structure being washed away by the river along with its pillars that peg it to the bottom, says Abrar.
While the nearer houseboat supports the other, it is the only way that Abrar and his family can get to the land.
A small wooden makeshift ladder leaning towards the concrete embankment is the entrance and exit way for the dwellers of four houseboats that appear as a single entity for now.
Adjacent to the ladder is a clothesline tied across the wall, the water beneath it nudges the clothes hanging on the rope after every 30-seconds, making it difficult for Parveena to get them off the rope.
“This afternoon, men inside these houseboats are sleeping, it has been a hectic night for them,” the 43-year-old woman says as she tries to figure out a way to recover the clothes.
As Jhelum flows furiously and silently, the pecking of pigeons on the houseboat roofs is the only noise in the parameter.
With weather mostly sunny on Sunday, officials said the water levels across many stations is receding, bringing joy to the houseboat dwellers in Jhelum.
“Khuda kari raham Inshallah,” (God will have mercy on us) says the octogenarian Khateeja even as she hopes for the weather to remain dry.