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I said nothing.

First, they took my land away,
for the gods in the big houses,
and for the ones in power.
They will take care of me they said.
I said nothing.

Then they took my love for my land,
the smell of the rich earth,
the feel of my feet on the ground.
I said nothing.

They sold me back pieces of space,
boxes atop each other that had no ground.
I marvelled at the distance it could take
me from the grass on the land
to the promise of the empty skies.
You are now high up, they said.

Then they came for my water.
I said nothing.
They took the water away,
And, gave it to me through pipes that reached my ivory towers.
They gave it to me in cans and pouches.
The running brooks and rivers are too far away they said.
I paid for the water they sold to me.

Then they came for my time.
I said nothing.
Free your time, they said.
So that you could enjoy the piece of air,
the moving box and life's luxuries.
I bought their gadgets and the time,
only to find time was needed
to buy more gadgets that they sold me
to save more time...
that I no longer enjoyed.

Then they came for my food.
I said nothing.
They laughed at the food I ate.
And. what i used to store them in.
They brought me food from far away,
They put them in packets,
they made it look easy.
It will save you time they said.
I learnt to love the packets and powders
The easy life of feasting they taught me,
sitting in my boxed air house,
watching them on small boxes
sell me more things,
in the limited time i had between
trying to make money to buy more things.

They came for my health.
I said nothing.
Don't move an inch they said.
You can get everything at a click.
You can sit right here, dreaming away
about making more money,
and we will bring you all what you need.
And, when you want to take a break.
we can sell you the break.
For pieces of land, where you can walk on grass,
drink pure water, breathe the air and eat real food.
And, I bought that too.
I worked through the year,
for my piece of the sky,
dreaming in front of the box,
eating canned food, drinking packaged water
for the brief time when I could be free of it all.

Then they came for my air.
I said nothing.
It is too polluted they said...
Buy it in packets now, they said.
With a sob I lunged for the air,
trying to take it in huge gulps...
only to find myself choking.

I stood there unable to say anything any more.

Too many vehicles on the road they said...
as I tripped over the roads that were not built.
There are too many of us now, they said...
as i looked around me, at the milling crowd,
the garbage filled streets.
There are too many gods they said...
Too much fighting over the gods.
There are too many like you, living in bits of air in the sky...
There is no water for all of you, they said.

There is no land, no water, no food, no air...

I stood there silently paying the price of my silence.

We can sell you more work.
We can take away more land.
We can sell more water..
We can make more packaged food.
Sell more packets of air...
They are people who would pay for it...
There are people who know how to build these.
They have done this before...
We will take care, they said.
My hands went for my pockets...
They were empty.

Suddenly the earth called out to me
The rich moist earth,
The grass tickled my feet.
The breeze swayed the trees
The gust of clean air hit my nostrils
I tasted the clear running water.
I picked some sweet berries,
Started biting into the fresh fruit...

Wake up from the dream, they said.
You have to pay for the luxury of that dream,
you just had.

I started to speak.
I want to say something, I said.

This is all .... wrong...

And, as I found my voice,
I found others speaking up too.

- Srividya Srinivasan[ 20/1/2016]

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