p class="MsoNormal"I call many names my own. They lie inscribed within the solemn pages of the Vedas./p
p class="MsoNormal"I am divine, a goddess to revere. I am beauty itself, exquisite enough to be a consort to the holy triumvirate of "Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh."/p
p class="MsoNormal"span style="mso-spacerun: yes;" /spanAnd above all, I am mother to riverlands, sea creatures and my most fervent devotees-humans. I give life, and bask in its warmth./p
p class="MsoNormal"Yes, your guess is astute, for I am the Ganga, the mighty salvation of a religion of more than a billion followers. The world recognises me as 'Ganges' , and my story is a long arduous one./p
p class="MsoNormal"The Himalayas. Cradled within the icy, glittering slopes of these leviathian guardians of the Indian subcontinent, is my birth, my promise, my provenance. My blue-gray waters flow cool and crystal-clear, shielded from mankind's true avarice, its shameful lust, its most hellish wrath. If my words have left you astounded, doubt not!/p
p class="MsoNormal"For yes ,the same children whom I have selflessly sustained through hundreds of generations, from primitive to advanced, from ignorance to enlightenment-yes, they are one and the same with my violators. But my waters are relentless, and gush over rocky ascents and lush plains alike, not daring to balk. For a few, infinitesimal moments, I am swollen with pride in my resilience, trust in my children and faith in the gentle nature of tomorrow. In those moments, encapsulated by snowlands and then green meadows, I am fearless./p
p class="MsoNormal"The exuberant high is always fulfilling…while it lasts. It is quick to erode away like the minerals that reach my touch, dissolving like salt in water. Suddenly, the beginnings of fear churn beneath my mellow surface. I enter the human habitations- or 'cities', as they are called -amidst neglect, refuse and filth. My journey through the picturesque riverlands has never prepared me for something like this. More than disappointment, or even fury, I am perplexed-after all , I am the Ganga!/p
p class="MsoNormal"I am deserving of better than what humanity has ladled out for my eyes to see. Terror is in every swell of my waters, and I am in their realm now, helpless as a pebble in my own tumbling path. I only watch with increasing horror as my flow grows burdened by garbage, poisons and bodily refuse./p
p class="MsoNormal"How ungainly I have become! It shocks and disgusts me. My own children pull my banks apart with unearthly explosions that terrify me, crushing the morale I'd dared to foster, and send it scattering away like wind. They purloin my sands, my minerals, my river creatures, and what do I receive as a token of gratitude?span style="mso-spacerun: yes;" /spanToxins that wipe out my vitality, plastics that choke my resistance, and grime, soot, ash….My despair is unbridled , my sorrow trenchant. I have been wronged, I have been used. Yet, hope stubbornly simmers within me. I refuse to forsake my children- what a devilish sort of mother that would make me!/p
p class="MsoNormal" /p
p class="MsoNormal"Slowly, like night fleeing before dawn, a new time comes. Now, I hear gentle whispers of atonement, and remorse. Even through my choked, chromium filled senses, I can feel my children's unrest. The little faith that I have nursed all along bubbles stronger, and yet, I am reticent to swell in relief- what if it all draws to nought? But soon, great machines have been hauled up to my shores, and more and more men and women traverse my waters. The enormity of the sudden action baffles me- are they here to do me wrong even more grievously?/p
p class="MsoNormal"span style="mso-spacerun: yes;" /spanBut my suspicions are soon laid to rest, for these humans are my protectors. They begin to cleanse and purify my waters. Their hands work tirelessly; their machines incessant. My hopes have grown from an inkling to an ocean. My waters are slowly recuperating, and a fresh gust of life sweeps through my sea creatures, bringing with it promises of rejuvenation. I can see the results of the campaigns and oaths thousands of compassionate souls have created. At last I feel strong again, and I am happy that people have realised my true worth, and have joined hands to worship me in the true sense by delivering me from the burden of carrying garbage, pollutants and untreated effluents./p