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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 4, January 14, 2023

The Earth Speaks at Joshimath | Sagari Chhabra

Saturday 14 January 2023, by Sagari Chhabra

From jagged lightning
furious sounds emerged,
falling on the earth,
in drops so huge,
they transmuted
the entire landscape;
from which there was no escape.

They said the cracks
were due to a tectonic shift
and glacial debris;
notwithstanding the frenzy,
the earth who had long
been held captive in silence,
could not withstand
the enormity of the violence.

She finally spoke,
‘You have invented the new Ma!’
‘Who is that?’ I asked in awe,
‘The new Ma-chine!
now watch the sheen
of the glacier fade,
the clouds overfill with water,
as you bade them
to envelop me
with heat and gas;
for it was money, alas,
you tried to amass.

Don’t tell me now,
you can’t stand
the land’s slippage,
the oceans’ warming,
the sinking of the town.
Did you take me,
the living Earth
to be a noun,
of passive voice;
while you kept raising an invoice,
with cash registers ringing;
it is you, who have been bringing
in, the sixth extinction.
You have the distinction
of feigning dismay,
but remember the mountain will not
remain a silent witness;
the mountain speaks,
it issues cracks,
with a whip lash.
It smashes your bullying
and dozing development;
your tunnel vision,
fracturing the land
into a fissured division.
It tells you,
to go back to the plains;
it tells you plainly,
live simply,
or simply,
all this will
come to an end’.

Sagari Chhabra
Is an award-winning author & film-maker.
She is the director of the ‘Hamaara Itihaas’ archives

11th January 2023

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