When I saw that today’s word of the day was Rivulet the first thing that came to my mind was my favorite poem by R. L. Stevenson “Where Go The Boats”. Of all the poems I had learnt in my school, the most notable one of them all. The one I remember very clearly, without mugging… without repeating a hundred times. This one just stuck.
Dark brown is the river.
Golden is the sand.
It flows along for ever,
With trees on either hand.
Green leaves a-floating,
Castles of the foam,
Boats of mine a-boating—
Where will all come home?
On goes the river
And out past the mill,
Away down the valley,
Away down the hill.
Away down the river,
A hundred miles or more,
Other little children
Shall bring my boats ashore.
I don’t know why this poem got stuck in my head. Perhaps because it’s a poem written in simple words or perhaps it just brings nostalgia of the times when we made paper boats and set them floating.
Having grown up in the city, I did not have the luxury of floating boats on a river. However come every October…. the rainy season would start and it would flood the roads with knee deep water. Dark brown water… which did flow along forever with trees on either side. Schools would be shutdown as all roads were flooded. While vehicles found it difficult, it didn’t stop me and my friends from jumping around in this water and make boats with old newspapers.
We had boat races. No not the kind where the winner is decided based on whose boat crossed the finishing line first. This one was where whose ever boat sank the last was the winner, for old newspapers used to absorb water very quickly. Whenever the boats floated above a water drain they would get caught in a tiny whirlpool and would circle a couple of times before they went down.
Today things have changed. The drains have improved, so it takes a lot more rain for roads to get flooded. We have become more health conscious and hence avoid treading in the water as much as possible for fear of catching something from the mixing of drainage water in it.
With all this global warming the kind of rains we get nowadays are those that bring with it the heavy winds of a cyclone. It not just floods the roads, it floods people’s houses, uproots trees and overall causes large scale devastation.
Gone are the simpler days when you could tread in the water without the fear of catching some disease or a tree falling over your head or falling in the drain….
Even long gone are the days of my parent’s childhood, when they actually floated boats on the few rivers that run within our city. For years these rivers have been a garbage dump with castles of toxic foam.
For the question today is not “Where the boats go?”…….
The question is where will we go?