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Ravan and I in 2019

I wrote this poem in memory of the Aarey Forest tree-felling in Mumbai. The story is that the Mumbai Metro needed to cut 2185 trees to make a car shed. Environmentalists and responsible citizens protested against the cutting of trees and the case was taken to Court for a decision.

The High Court approved the cutting on October 4th, 2019. However, the Supreme Court put a stay on it on October 7th, 3 days later and said no trees were to be cut until a decision would be taken by it on October 21st.

Even as protesters waited for a decision to be taken, Mumbai Metro chopped down 2141 of 2185 trees between October 4th and October 7th. Talk about playing by the rule. For those of you who’d wish to know more about this, I have attached the news article below the poem.

Strangely, the cutting of trees coincided with the festival of Navratri which began on 29th September and ended on October 7th. This is a festival which is celebrated with prayer, dancing and ends on the tenth night i.e. on Dussera the effigy of Ravan**, the king of Lanka is burnt (as per Hindu mythology) as a reminder of the victory of good over evil.

The burning added to the carbon levels in the air and the cutting of trees ensured the increase in carbon levels were to stay.

The sight of a fallen tree on my morning walk on October 7th, that had fallen because of the off-season heavy rains and the fallen trees of the Aarey forest (to stop which I too had signed a petition) gave birth to this poem.

Its strange how with all our intelligence, we fail to see what we are doing in the name of development. And then we complain why its still raining in Mumbai in October when it should have stopped in September; why winters have not started at the end of October and instead higher temperatures are predicted by the Meteorological department, in November and December; we ask why the prices of farm produce has increased as if we are unaware of the floods that lashed most states in the country this year. At the time, we shook our heads and frowned and said, ‘Oh! Its global warming. Damn Trump! He doesn’t understand.’ I ask, ‘Do we in India understand?’ or is it just the old habit of ‘its easier to lay the blame at another’s door?’

Do let me know if you see the irony in this poem and if its’ clear for those of you who are not aware of the festival or the myth.


 

 

The nine nights of Navratri

You danced the night away

In your red mirrored lehengas*

Drum beats filled the air

Muting the sounds of the night –

That of the axe that struck my womb

As you twirled graciously round and round

Every turn you made, it came down harder

I cried in vain

Why? Why me? I wondered

 

Meted with the same fate

As Ravan

On the tenth day

You watched him burn

And danced around

‘Evil’ has fallen you rejoiced

But so had I

In the dead of night

For no fault of mine

Why? Why me? I wondered

 

You came the next day

For my leaves- still fresh and green

‘An offering to the Gods’

I heard you murmur

Strike, strike, strike

You cut me some more

Blood oozed from my veins

Why? Why me? I wondered

For giving you life

And asking- nothing in return?

*lehenga – long skirt

**Ravan – King of Sri Lanka as per Hindu Mythology Ramayan

 

Times of India

Economic Times

Times Now

 

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P.C. From the Net

 

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