He was quietly standing there and staring at us, in fact, it wasn’t his first experience to watch people who come to visit the resort to enjoy the beautiful rainy weather and splendid location.
It was a delightful day of July but the weather of Neelum valley seems to be January’s weather, the only difference was lush greenery around, which cannot be seen in January because of winters. I was there in Neelum Valley after a year so in full mood to enjoy the weather which was cold for me, but not for the people who are living there. I was wearing a sweater to prevent cold which at first glance was shocking for the people around me.
That afternoon weather was amazing; some dark clouds were covering the sky like the other days of the month. It was Ramadan and a few fasts were left. Most of the people believe that the ‘weather is special blessing of Allah for giving ease in fast.’ We were, (me along with my some friend) heading towards Kundal-Shai when we decided to visit Kutton resort as the weather was splendid and there were chances of rain that day. Shahid (one of my friends) called two others for accompanying and one other joins us from Kundal-Shai, the total figure turned into six.
As we left Kundal-Shai, the rain started with its full capacity, cold air of the river with water vapors blowing on us as while traveling through the bank of river Jagran. We reached there in half an hour. It was my first opportunity to be there, so I was more excited. The rain had been stopped but after a while it started again, drizzling, rain, drizzling, rain. The changing nature of weather was reflecting a great rainbow with numerous colors of nature.
Ahhh! Outside was cold as I closed the door of the car and came out, cold wind kissed on my cheeks; a cooled ray passes by my nerves and through the backbone. Around us, there were woods, small, young and old trees. There the resort is surrounded by the trees of Himalayan poplar, walnut, Deodar, Pine, fir and other trees of fruit. Nature flirts here with the fantastic environment. Although the place is small to visit but the piece is unexplainable. That day I came to the conclusion why people in past use to migrate jungles for the peace and harmony, the whispers of falling drop of rain and chirps of the birds. This is what nature is, and I was close to it, feeling it.
Whether one is watching a thrilling thunderstorm or looking up at a mighty tree, the experience of nature is one of awe. One cannot help but marvel at the intricate design of a single leaf, or the roar of a great waterfall. Time spent in nature is time spent realizing that you don’t know it all and that you never will. The earth is meant to be enjoyed by its inhabitants. That includes keeping it in the pristine condition in which it was discovered. Everyone has a part of the earth that they relate to the most. Whether it is a majestic mountain range, a roaring waterfall, a bouquet of flowers, or the calm of the woods, these are places to get to know oneself.
He suddenly appears from the front stairs of the resort. I didn’t notice these stairs until he appeared; the stairs were ended at a nursery of trees. He walked towards us and stands silently a few steps before us. My friends were busy in taking pictures and I was explaining to them how important these trees in beautifying the place and as a representative of Nature. “These are my kids” he suddenly comes close to me and said.
At first glance, he was not an ordinary old man. He looks like the other people who are living there in the valley. In “Saddi” shoes, wearing traditional clothes of “Qameez and Shalwar” with a rot jacket, his face was showing the tiredness of life but his eyes were beautiful with full of peace.
“Are you tourists?” he asked me as I shack hand with him. “Not at all, we are local and living in the next town” I replied to him. He was obviously ignoring or couldn’t notice the language we were speaking. His eyes blushed with the warmth of cultural ties. In moments he was a changed man. “I am working here for the last twenty years and next year I am going to retire” he explained his presence there. “Wow! It is a long time” I was surprised, “I am just twenty-four years, you are more experienced than my age” I smiled. “Oh!” He smiled back.
“These trees are my kids” he continued. I was staring at him surprisingly as he said something unexpected or taboo. “I am a gardener here, and there was not a single tree when “graze” (Western People) came here and build this resort, a ‘Goori’ (English women) brought the seeds of these trees and hired us to sow these seeds. She worked with us for the long hours of the evening and surveyed the whole area, then pointed the places on a particular distance with white limestone and guided us at each and pint to sow the seeds, next day she ordered the plants. I planted these plants which are grown to this” He pointed the tallest tree of poplar. It was an amazing tale. My inner journalist woke up.
“How these trees can be your kids?” “These are” He nodded, “I saw the seeds, then water them to grow, alone, and when they appeared from the land I assure that no one could enter into their field, I saved them from the strange weather, from the animals specifically from goats who are fond of eating green trees…. And twenty years, do you think it is just a small phase of time, served them, I didn’t care for the winters if it was too cold and snowing or summer when sun become angry and hot. These ‘Angraz’ (Western People) left after five years but I have spent all my life with these trees, these are my kids”. He ended with a smile.
I asked him if I can take a picture with him. “Sure,” He said, “Hundred of people visit here daily and you are the first one who asked for a picture of me.” Then we talked about his personal life and family. He has wife and children who were all young and married. He accompanied us for the time we stayed there, one of his pupils was working in a small garden of fresh vegetables. Another story was growing but I have to wait for thirty years to write it.