This article of mine was published in Bangalore-based magazine Citizen Matters, Bangalore.
When we set about hunting for a house, our seven-year old declared very matter-of-factly that we should ensure at least one balcony that would offer a forest-view with the sky all over it. Of late he was very much into Tarzan and Mowgli and had also gone for an overnight camp in the city outskirts near a small forest. For him it was ‘cool’ to dwell just next to a jungle. The denser it is, the more the thrill. I was not alarmed with the condition he laid down. As far as his imagination stretched, an orchard over half an acre was a ‘real’ forest.
When we finally zeroed in on what was going to be our new home, we were thrilled to find a sprawling tree-covered area a few furlongs away from our balcony with the blue sky looking down on it. Ecstatic, we moved in soon. The icing on the cake was the rising sun peeping from behind the mango trees there as we all sipped our morning tea, relaxing in our east-facing balcony. Friday nights were exciting with the entire family huddling there again, my ‘astronomer’ son delighting us with constellations that became more visible with his telescope. Night sky had never been so enchanting. Waking up with nature at our side and nature again soothing our tired bodies and jaded minds, gradually sending us to calm peaceful sleep, our new home felt like heaven. We had never felt so blessed before.
We kept relishing the joys of the blissful neighbourhood – the sunrise, the blue sky and the dusk sweeping across its vast expanse every evening. The bolt from the blue came when all of a sudden very rapidly a high wall rose up over the huge meadow adjacent to our 'forest', a board on it announcing the inception of a shopping mall. The merciless bulldozers running amok over the soft green grass, truckloads of cement and sand arriving incessantly and sophisticated cranes getting into serious operation undermined the landscape in a short span of time. The butterflies lost their homes and fluttered around helplessly for a few days before disappearing completely. The cuckoos’ melodious songs got lost somewhere in the droning of the concrete-mixers as floor after floor got added sending the rising structure soaring up higher and higher. Our neighbours rejoiced over the imminent rise in their property value, oblivious to the dust and noise filling the air. Before long, a mammoth structure stood proudly towering over us. Only a small patch of blue sky managed to peer down at us from behind the summit of the high-rise.
We had lost those special moments forever when the birds greeted the morning sun as they soared up in the blue sky.
On Banerghatta Road, near Meenakshi Temple, as of now a number of apartment complexes and a mall are fighting for supremacy, one or two amongst them drawing inspiration from skyscrapers making news around the world – which one will steal the thunder? We’ll know when they all get ready. With only a patch of the sky now hanging over our Mantri Residency, will the pre-schoolers here feel inspired to sing ‘Twinkle Twinkle little star’ any more?
Our saddest moment was when our son went to the balcony with his binoculars, after his exams, to have a look at the night sky. His face fell as he screamed “This giant stole our sky?!”