The epitaph for living dead

The next player must then do the same with this previous word. Usually, players write down the next word by merely using the first word that comes to their mind after they hear the previous one. Here is an example of how a Word Association game might run: Dog, cat, fur, coat, enshroud, night, eye, heart, love, hate etc. Exchanges are often fast and sometimes unpredictable. Sometimes, a lot of the game’s fun can arise from the seemingly strange or amusing associations that people make between words. It is also found amusing what you can get from an original word, and how they contrast distinctly; for example, from the word “tea” you could get the word “murder”.
That is what exactly happened to me when I was trying to ward off insomnia a few days back. You may ask, how?  Check this out: what next word would come to your mind if I mentioned “Fresh water spring”. Your response could be ‘lake’, ‘river’, ‘pond’ or ‘stream’.
You may even think of the word ‘Pitcher’ and if you stretch your imagination further you may even say “Habba Khatoon”, murmuring at the back of your mind ‘nout mya phutmo malinyo ho, malinyo ho”. But none of these words came to mind when I recollected my memories of a now-dead water spring in our locality. Only one word came trudging repeatedly: Garbage Dump. Wonder you may, but it seemed to be quite natural a ‘Word Association” having nothing to be amused about. Let me explain how. Nallah Amir Khan is a canal dug out by a Mughal governor of the same name to connect the famous Nigeen (Gem) lake with Aanchar Lake. The canal, though a victim of official apathy, is in fact the only outlet for this beautiful lake. Decades of unplanned and unfinished civil work has rendered this canal into a virtual drain which otherwise was a popular fishing haunt in our old days. Adding to the beauty of the canal were rows of weeping willows on its both banks capturing attention and praise of any passerby. And at the foothills of Kohi-maran facing the canal was this beautiful fresh water spring.
It had been properly enclosed by Divri stones with a couple of steps going down into the water of the spring. Our prudent forefathers had ensured that the spring retains it beauty as well as its value. It was perhaps the only spring in the city apart from the famed Cheshmae Shahi. In our Childhood – and that was not too long back- we used to frequent the spring to quench our thirst after heavy fun and frolic on the banks of the canal. Over time, steadily- and stealthily- the swampy land around the spring was reclaimed and encroached upon by people like you and me. A colony came into existence. Modern colonies have their modern needs. The houses need to be spic and clean. The garbage has to move out. Where should that garbage be dumped? Why not into that trench which people say was a spring. Lo and behold, the colony gets a respectable place to shove its stinking insides into.
The Municipality gets a convenient garbage dump. Sweepers get comfort of distance. The people living around thank their stars for a readymade garbage dump, which is not on the road but into a corner and enclosed by stones. Everybody is happy. Even the spring is for it has closed its eye (The cheshma). Blissful soul lying beneath the stinking apathy of empty potato chips packets shrouding our dead conscience! Who is complaining? Nobody.  As a matter of fact everyone is happy. Except for the few old Divri stones lying scattered nearby and singing silently an elegy on the death of our sensibilities. I thought somebody should, at least, engrave an epitaph on those stones. An epitaph for the living dead that we are. That’s why I write this piece. Any takers?


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