Autumn in Kashmir is surreal, peerless and unmatched. It is not merely the sheer sublime beauty of the season that brings out Kashmir’s multidimensional allure which distinguishes Kashmir’s autumn but its nature as a commentary on life, in general. The ebb and flow of history, civilization , age and, more generally life, is best encapsulated and captured by the fall of the crumpled Chinar leaf from its perch on the tall and majestically proud Chinar, the tree or in the nature of a monument that bears witness to the vicissitudes of life in Kashmir.
There can perhaps be no ode or sonnet that can best capture the allure of autumn in Kashmir. Who can compose a lyric to the Chinar leaf as it is displaced by the gentle autumn breeze and as it falls on the earth whose grass is wizened by the autumn chill? No music can be compared to the mellifluous chirping of the sparrows around the Dal Lake as the sun kisses goodbye to glistening bronzed hue of the lake? What better ballad than the harde pipin whose wheeze inaugurates autumn? And, ah, those autumn evenings when the slight chill and nip in the air makes people want to snuggle in cozy comfort, what parallel do they have in the world? What a feeling it is to nibble and munch on chestnuts when traipsing across Lal Chowk or the Residency road?
The list of autumn delights, visual, culinary, acoustic or of the senses is vast and long and I must confess that the feelings and the spirit that autumn in Kashmir are hypnotic , surreal and sans parallel. I have wandered rather aimlessly and serendipitously across half the world and I lived long enough in many places as far as the Antipodes, the land down under, and Europe to see, observe and feel each season in these but none compares with autumn in Kashmir. I have travelled reasonably enough to be cosmopolitan but rooted at the same time to not speak from the “perch” of conceit and prejudice about my native place that nurtured me albeit in a convoluted way. I am not saying I don’t have prejudices; I do, like all of us have, but I can take a detached look , appreciate and see beauty where it is. And, I tell you, I have yet to see as beautiful autumn as in Kashmir.
Words fail me to capture the essence and spirit of this season here. All I can say is that almost everything feels magical . The Midas touch of autumn makes the Chinar seem emblazoned across the backdrop of azure skies, the sun light streaks through the tall and slender poplar trees, the Dal Lake changes its hues and complexion as the autumn sun waxes and wanes. All these effects touch the chords of the soul , stir it musically and magically.
But, autumn also has a tale of its own to tell. It is the tale of transience and ephemeral nature of being. Nothing, autumn tells all too eloquently, except God and His providence remains. Anything and everything created by Him grows, rises and then falls or returns to Him, in different forms. The message embedded in and revealed by autumn in all its magniloquence is that all Creation that has a beginning has an end , a thought and reality that should be sobering on us all. And that life is transitory. Be as bleak as the message is but autumn also calls for the celebration of the gift of life bequeathed by the Almighty Creator with thanksgiving and gratitude to Him , all underscored by a perspective on the smallness of our being in comparison to God’s magnificence and that of His Creation. I wish I had been imbued and blessed with the gift of poetry and the poetic imagination. But, alas I am not. If I were I would be composing lyrics on the sublimely awesome and breathtaking nature of autumn in my Kashmir!
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