Her lips trembled, and her eyes burned as she tried to keep her tears at bay.
She felt, maybe she could save herself some water that way.
I asked if she wanted to lie down, she said,
“I don’t want to fill the little space left in my town.”
She’d rather grow a plant there, to get fresh air and food.
She didn’t want me to help her ’cause, “I know you won’t help me for free!” Rude.
What could I say? You see, that is actually true.
But all I was going to ask her for in return was the answer to my question –
What is A Better World according to you?
“My world isn’t very huge.
I just need a house for five.
That we can tranquilly call ‘our’ home.
Where we don’t have to pay for water.
Where we don’t have to fight for food.
Where when my siblings and I step out the door,
we see a park full of green
we breathe the air fresh as the 70s
Where my sister can feel the coolness of the weather on her thighs in her comfortable shorts, without being judged by Sakshi aunty and her friends
and without being afraid of Nikhil, the 21 year old bachelor who lives in the next building.
Where my brother can play football with her friend Shruti without being called a spoiled brat who roams around with girls by Suresh uncle
Or gay by his male friends.
Where the poor little Aarti is sent to free school to study instead of our house to earn by selling her childhood.
Where students get opportunities based on their talents and not caste.
Where my father is not looked down upon as ‘incapable’ when he cooks for the family while my mother is in the office.
Where my mother’s deserved salary is not half eaten when it comes to her.
Where the road to the supermarket is as smooth and clean as promised by the minister.
Where my neighbor’s 3 year old is not used for an idiot’s pleasure.
Where I can freely love and marry my girlfriend.
Where WE are safely developing.”
Hope was shining in her eyes as she finished by saying that this is her favorite dream.
I asked her name.
To which she replied in a riddle.
‘It starts with a P, it’s end is comingshortly.
Looks wrecked just like me.
It’s what you call your pitiful planet in Hindi.”