Lost Luni, Lively Lands.

The Luni river is a very important river in western Rajasthan. Originating from Naga Hills in Ajmer , it eventually disappears in the marshy ranns of Gujarat, never meeting the Arabian Sea. It derives its name from Sanskrit Lavanvati, due to its high salt content.

The portion of the river that flowed from Raas, Lambiya and Anandpur is now totally dry. It is either children’s playing ground or it comfortably supports outcrops of khejri and babool. After 4 rains, there are sporadic water pockets with enough water to attract migratory birds for brief rest. It is a lovely sight because there is no trash or garbage anywhere.
People respect the river even though it’s almost dead. They don’t need science to know that the soil is rich in minerals. They simply call it “sacred”. They are emotional fools who don’t think that the empty space can be made into a landfill or a mall or “beautified into a garden”. They live with the hope that these water pockets we see today will once again swell and the river will return. When will it happen, I ask. “When the collective Dharma and karma of people living here is closer to God,” I am told. It sounds dramatic when written, but when heard in the context of life here it is befitting.

The river portion disappears and the highway inclines gradually. The fields on either side are also rapidly turning yellow and green from the earlier golden brown. I see women bending over, feet submerged in water , working with flawless precision and speed. I don’t know for how long. That’s where each grain on my plate comes from. I wonder what do they think when they see my speeding car? I then realize that holding grudges and envy is a luxury. A farmer has far more important things to do than to discuss or write about, say, “How the quality of lives of the Urbans can be improved.” She has to feed the rest of us, and if possible, her own kids.

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