|Protection is needed for survival|
As the December dawn announced its arrival, the snow swirled down in great flurries over the halcyon town of Khushbahar. Drooping with the weight of snow on their branches, the trees that were dottedalong the road’s edges allowed snow to occasionally fall on the alabaster ground at the slightest sigh of the frigid wind. The town breathed in silence leaving its foot imprints in the snow-accumulated streets as frost lay thick all around the scene.
The densely populated village of Khushbahar, situated in the northern province of Swat glittered with its outstanding beauty. The lush-green valleys with its gushing streams, icy-cold lakes and fruit-laden orchards served as a perfect sight for the tourists.
Just like everyday, truck driver Shadman was preparing for his journey to the main city of Saidu Sharif almost 12 km away from the village. “You promised to take me today,” pleaded his 8-year-old son. Shadman knew that the weather change could come in very rapidly and Mother Nature was known to team up with inclined roads to even befuddle those drivers that were used to such conditions. But his son kept insisting and refused to calm down. Analyzing the weather, Shadman noticed that the sky was relatively clear that day and the air was crispy with lucid weather conditions. “Alright son, go get inside the truck,” The smile on his son’s face was all he wanted and they both clambered into the truck, looking forward to a pleasant trip.
The road was a bit slippery and scattered snow showers had dusted a few spots in the region. The influx of tourists created a traffic jam at points leading towards the city and the road was packed with vehicles. Just as their truck was about to take a turn, a speedy car came racing towards them.
The wind-whipped snow, forming a thick fog completely blinded him and momentarily out of control, his truck slammed into the nearby trees and the world went dark before his eyes. On regaining consciousness, he found himself in a hospital and was informed that his son had gotten severely injured as a result of falling off the hillside road.
Even though he had known that the roads were gravely and greasy, he had never complained for the installation of traffic barriers to prevent errant vehicles and travellers from falling off the hillside road. Shadman started shaking like a leaf upon this realization, as he knew that his son was his only treasure left after his deceased wife. Day and night he earnestly kept praying to the Almighty that he might see the pristine face of his son again. After assorted surgeries, his son was able to move his body parts to some extent.
Later, a meeting of the truck drivers was arranged where Shadman tried to convince them to join him on a petition for installation of traffic barriers. Snow in the spring and fall tends to be very slick and melts off fast, but can be fatal to the tourists who aren’t familiar with the conditions. The Municipal Council had constructed the roads by spending huge amount from the public exchequer but after the passage of few months, the roads started breaking down creating the slick spots near intersections. A consensus was agreed upon during the meeting on writing a letter to the District Development Authority for rehabilitation of various roads and installation of road barriers.
It was only when the letter was written that Shadman’s conscience eased a bit.
Snowfall season in hill stations attracts a large number of domestic and foreign tourists from across the world but due to the snow flurry, tires can lose all contact with the road and a slight change of direction or a gust of wind could throw vehicles off the skid. The pace of work on the reconstruction of broken roads and setting up of barriers need to accelerate before God forbid, we suffer from huge physical and financial losses.
Coutersy: Revolution Flame