Shardi and Nardi, two mountain peaks, two enslaved fairies, are an integral part of the beautiful town of Sharda. Centuries ago they lived in Sharda peacefully and happily. The place was known for knowledge and learning. People travelled from across the mountains and valleys to satiate their thirst for knowledge.
In those ancient times arrived a man from the world laid distantly across the difficult Banihal Pass. Soon he was known for his meek appearance but clever mind. He often lived in the world of incantation and magic. It did not take long before the man was charmed by the beauty of Shardi and Nardi. They were alien to him, but he entrapped them to go along to his world. After a short journey to the lands across the difficult passes, both Shardi and Nardi found out the devilish mysterious habits of the man and ran back scared to their own land.
The man chased them, chained them but they remained unmoved by his orders. Frustrated and angered, the man cast a magic spell and turned them into objects of mud and stone. He then returned back to his lands laid detached and distant, much beyond in the deltas of Ganges. In the period of centuries, much gathered over static and stationary Shardi and Nardi.
They had lost the power to converse with their kinsmen living in Shard village but retained the consciousness to converse with each other. Gradually both found out that they could converse with another mate, Neelum. For people, Neelum was a riverine but in fact, it was a living specie that found out the methods of surviving forever. Neelum was usually quiet brooding over time and destiny but occasionally conversed with the two and assured them of the freedom-days.
Decades ago, Shardi and Nardi came to know that their captor had reincarnated and crossed the difficult passes to take them to his remote lands. However, this time aware of his ill-intent, the people of the land had put a halt to his advances.
A war broke out and warlock was stopped. But there he marked a line that divided the people of the land. Shardi and Nardi are waiting for centuries now, for their captor to free them, or for their kinsmen to rid them of their plight. Shardi and Nardi believe in their cause of freedom as the captor for sure is to return to his land.
Neelum looked amused that morning. Now it was a routine to find scores of travelers around Sharda and other villages nearby. Neelum knew them well as most were kinsmen of Mai Kolachi. Neelum found himself chained in love with Mai Kolachi. In centuries-old times once Neelum started his journey from the land of high mountains in search of eternity, he found out a natural course all along till he met Mai Kolachi. There he found eternity in the vast bosom of seashores and deep waters. Neelum found out that people all around were as amiable as Mai Kolachi. Though Neelum kept his abode in high mountains but got accustomed to habits, care and love of the land that led him to Mai Kolachi.
On one beautiful morning, Neelum found a beautiful girl and a young boy brooding over his wings. The girl was a painter and the boy was a poet. They have found out the power of love in a way that not only connected them profusely to each other but they could also converse with nature. The girl soon spotted Shardi and Nardi and started painting them. The boy got engaged in conversation with Neelum. He asked him the meaning of love. The question stirred the usually quiet Neelum and he replied, “Love is a dream that is chased by all and forever. Most often it is taken as an object that can be kept in one shape but in that fallacy lies the death of love”. Then Neelum almost talked to himself: “I have lived in time and found out that love never survives in ordinary sense. One cannot live forever in once charming but motionless circles. Love is a power that frees you from all chains of acceptance and non-acceptance. It is a state of soul where meanings of union and separation are no different. Love is almost like a relation of a ship and a sea. The ship has no life being stationary and outside the waters, but still it travels all over. The sea-waters never stop the ship at one point, but widen its lanes and open the arms once ship chooses to stay or travel. The waters know that the ship is always in their world and would never go away.” The boy looked at the girl who was painting, and she nodded affirmatively. The poet who was always in search of ‘truth and beauty’ had found the answer of love in ‘freedom and continuity’. It appeared that he had slipped but in reality he chose to enter the waters of Neelum silently. Neelum then turned to the girl and said, “Love is not always staying together. Love is not always union. For nothing is permanent in this world of change and uncertainty. Pain and pleasure, both are love if faith is kept on freedom of choice. Betrayal or broken promises should never be mistaken for love, as oneness of souls needs no promises to be kept.” Neelum was happy to find a new companion, too. They both would travel to the land of Mai Kolachi. Neelum then asked the girl to give title to her painting ‘power of abstinence’. Silence, humility and patience are strands of abstinence that frees the man from the mysteries of want. The girl stayed sombre and completed her painting. Neelum had taught her that continuity was life.
Neelum and the poet started travelling and natural flow of the river was taking them to Mai Kolachi. The boy was sure that he would meet the girl there. Miles below Sharda village, Neelum and the boy reached the village Keran. There Neelum shared the story of the divided village, and a drowned girl who chose honour over ruin. Centuries after, the time had repeated the story of agony and sufferings, and this time not one man of incantation but a multitude of his kinsmen invaded the land of Shardi and Nardi. They were yelling mantras of peace but were dragging all of them to the lands they never belonged to. The winds, rivers, mountains, springs, suns and moons all travelled along Neelum to the lands of Mai Kolachi. Neelum stood their way to protect the people of Keran. But there they established a line of control on the bosom of Neelum and divided the people. Then began the story of ordeal for many Shardi and Nardi in the land that was often alluded as paradise. On that fateful day, the kinsmen of the incantation man came to the village in search of men of freedom who wanted to unite the divided village of Keran. These alien men were brutal in their methods and manners. There they found this beautiful poor girl who was no less than a fairy. They dragged her to their abode and the night of evil spread her wings. The girl looked across Neelum where laid the other part of village Keran. That was serene and peaceful as a child in the lap of a mother. The girl was engrossed in deep thoughts among the invaders. She was thinking of his people living across Neelum. They lived and moved freely like their ancestors to the lands of Mai Kolachi. Their destination was not an imposed-one rather a chosen-one. They all knew love which freed them from burdens of unwanted obligations. They also knew the meaning of life which was a continuity from times immemorial. Both their life and love always took them along the course of Neelum whose final abode along his brothers Jhelum and Chenab was the land of Mai Kolachi. They all were freed by power of love and had faith in their common destiny. The girl then made a final decision and quietly escaped from her captors. This time the captors could not stop her by their magical incantations. The girl knew that she could not swim, yet she chose to cross Neelum on an evil night. Neelum took the girl in his warm motherly arms to end her ordeal of pangs and sufferings.
The painter girl was going back to her home in the lands of Mai Kolachi. The boy and Neelum were travelling parallel in the same downward direction. The poor girl of divided Keran village was already in the lands of natural contiguity and instinctive affinity. No other line exists in those lands but only one: Line of Continuity that unites Mai Kolachi to the beautiful village of Sharda.
Shardi and Nardi are waiting for their kinsmen to free them or, the time to end the magic spell of their alien captor.
(The writer is a traveler and student of history. He can be reached at tmabbasiyahoo.com)