Safe and Sound

And they would cry.
Finding reasons to let those caged tears free.
And finally letting go of the reasons too.
Is this what a safe haven feels like?
Where you are held tight and allowed to cry?

And they would talk.
About how scared she was.
Of growing up,
Falling,
Flying,
Breaking hearts,
Losing people,
Making friends,
Living.
Dying.

And they would laugh–
At how smart they are.
How stupid they are.
How nothing makes sense,
And yet they try finding meaning.
In search of meaning, they look at the sky.
They laugh at the stars which are on vacation.
They laugh at the impermanence of things, and people and emotions.

In the warmth of his touch
And that familiar scent,
She quietly comforts herself.
And then,
For a while, they don’t cry.
For a while, they don’t talk.
For a while, they don’t laugh.
Her ears pressed to his chest,
His heartbeat beating as if in her,
For a while, they stay.

If anyone could calm the chaos in her head,
It was him.
He was always there for her–
To silently take care of her.
To wake her up to the sun,
(Making sure the light doesn’t hurt her eye).
And put her to sleep,
Under the gentle moonlight.
To caress her hair,
Kiss her forehead ,
And whisper to the sleepyhead,
“Daada loves you”.

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Damned Site

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Nature has it’s own charm. It’s filled with subtle life. A life that never imposes it’s presence and yet is always there. In the sound of streams and cooes of birds. The warm sunshine and gentle drops of rain.

She looked at the snow capped mountains of himachal and thought– this is my wallpaper. I’m going to carry it with me wherever I go.
And there she was a week later- sitting under a mango tree in a remote village of Madhya Pradesh, with a bunch of villagers discussing their land which was under submergence.
How quickly her wallpaper had changed.
Snow capped mountains replaced with a dam far away, threatening to ruin innocent lives. Homes that were either gone or waiting to be flushed away. In a few days? Months? She wasn’t sure. No one was.
What was this dam thing anyway? Built out of nowhere, on their lands for someone so distant.
What were they to make of it?
The answer they would hear is- Vikas. Development. But for whom? Now that is a tabooed question.
Arey inhe vikas nahi chahiye. Inhe toh bas ye chahiye ki koi inke zakhm bhar de. Dam me pani nahi.
She shuddered.
How could people talk about it so freely?
About not having a place to live in. Not having their lands to cultivate. Not having familiar paths that their feet are used to traverse.
She secretly shot glances towards the dam and turned away before anyone noticed.
Why was she so scared of looking at it?
Maybe she was reminded of  her childhood when her mother threatened her of a monster who would eat her away if she didn’t finish her food.
So this is how that monster would’ve looked, she thought.
In the evening she was sitting on the charpai, sipping on hot chai and listening to cows moo, when a family of four crossed her on a motorbike.
Dongar bhai looked at her curious face and told her that they were going to see the dam. It was their family outing, he said.
She felt guilty.
There was something about her life that made her feel responsible for the injustice happening around her. Can no one else see it? Or are they so used to it that it’s no big deal now? She couldn’t quite figure out. All she knew was that the sight of the dam and the talk of it made her uncomfortable. Like she was being charged for a crime she was unknowingly involved in.
She buried her face in the cup and didn’t look up.
A few days later, she was riding on a bike behind Dongar bhai and he suddenly pointed to a sign board that said ‘uppar Veda pariyojana’ 2km.
“Didi dam dekhna hai aapko?” He asked her excitedly.
She sulked again.
The same feeling took control of her body.
“Nahi Bhaiya. Ghar chalte hai” she managed to mumble.
“Arey itni door aake aap dam nahi dekhoge?” Dongar bhai insisted and turned the motorbike towards the signboard.
How a place that devastates your life can be a vacation spot, she couldn’t understand.
In a few minutes, they were at the dam site. More like the ‘damn’ed site. There it was. Standing tall and long. The monster eating away their lives bit by bit and then all at once.
She looked at the fresh water flowing below her. It reminded her of the streams in himachal.
There was no snow, but the huge rocky structures could pass for mountains.
The only thing that bothered her was the concrete. There was too much of it. Demanding its presence in the water, from this end to that.
But not being able to fit in somehow. It might’ve been a magnificent construction. A great token of “development”. And yet it seemed out of place.
Concrete can never be stone, you see.