Coffee, hoodies and a cosy atmosphere! A carpet of crimson leaves awaiting us on the roads! And when the crisp wind strikes our cheeks while we enjoy the crackling of leaves beneath our feet, we are sure that Autumn is here! Ironically, 'Fall' is the other word for Autumn as leaves fall off from trees to make space for new. But, Autumn is the rise of new spirits – a bold step of rejuvenation ,of shunning the old to have new, of breaking habits to cultivate novel. But how often do we realise what this great teacher tries to teach us?
William Wordsworth has rightly said,
One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.
True, that Nature never refrains from teaching us, giving us signals of how we ought to act. But man is so busy making mistakes that he forgets to ponder over what they taught him. Nature makes constant efforts and man constantly denies them. This time, Autumn picked up a different card to give us a lesson. It changed its strategy of teaching, perhaps hoping that we might change ours(of acting).
3rd November brought about the autumn surprise when the rains, after lashing Kashmir for two days, conspired with snow, which seemed quite eager to arrive as an uninvited guest. Snow, being one of the miracles of Nature bewitches one and all, young and old. Snow is the prime reason that brings tourists to Kashmir in chilly winters. The immaculate snow adds to the beauty of Kashmir, thus attracting people from all over the world. Ironically, the same snow which attracts people towards Kashmir is actually responsible for forcing the natives out who migrate towards Jammu, Delhi or other parts of India, leaving their homes to caretakers for a period of three to four months. The reason actually is not snow or inclement weather, but the hardships that follow.
The unexpected snowfall of 3rd November, no doubt, came as a surprise because of its untimely arrival. Hearts were delighted at the sight of frozen flakes embracing the earth in multitudes. The excitement of people was visible on social media who posted their pictures in snow to vent out their ecstasy. There was gaiety all around except for the wise old heads who feared power failure given their ages-old experience with snow in Kashmir. Their fears materialised and electricity got disrupted as soon as the first flakes of snow began to kiss the earth. While some said the PDC (Power Development Corporation) might have stopped the power supply as a precautionary measure, others reckoned it might be a normal power cut, yet all harbouring the fear deep down that this was the same age old power failure which follows snow in Kashmir. Hours went by and electricity was nowhere to be seen. The whole vale plunged into darkness after barely two inches of snowfall! Kashmir geographically falls in mountainous region. As such, snow should be deemed as a regular phenomenon. How modern are we if the same and in fact less snowfall results in power failure in the entire valley for more than 24 hours as it did decades ago when Kashmir witnessed heavy snowfall even in the plains? PDC very helplessly claimed that they were fighting Nature's fury. I daresay, Nature changes its strategies time and again to make us all realise that we need to change our course of action too! We need to be prepared for what Nature might have in store for us considering the geography of Kashmir and devise our systems accordingly. The last time it snowed in November was in the year 2009. Nine years after, Nature has again tried to give us a wake up call, do we still care to act?
(Asma Majid is pursuing Master's in English Literature from the Deptt. Of English, University of Kashmir)