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 view of a forest with the sky above. He had been 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 was, the more the thrill. I was of course not alarmed with this condition he laid down. As far as his imagination stretched, an orchard over half an acre was a ‘real’ forest.
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When we finally zeroed in on what was going to be our new home, we were thrilled to find a sprawling green zone not far 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 trees there as we all sipped our morning tea, relaxing in our east-facing balcony. Friday nights got exciting with the entire family huddling there again, my ‘astronomer’ son delighting us with constellations that became more visible with his mini-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.
File Pic: Rajeev R
Our family kept relishing the joys of the blissful environment – the sunrise, the blue sky and the dusk sweeping across its vast expanse every evening, until came the bolt from the blue when all of a sudden very rapidly a high wall rose up over the huge meadow adjacent to our mini-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. Close on its heels came up a posh apartment complex, just next to us, sleek and smart to passers-by, but an eyesore for me with its countless layers. Our neighbours rejoiced over the imminent rise in their property value, oblivious to the dust and noise filling the air. Before long, this mammoth structure stood proudly, dwarfing everything around it. 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 first rays of the morning sun as they soared up in the blue sky and warblers’ wake-up calls told us a new day was on its way.
Now, on Bannerghatta Road, in my neighbourhood, 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 own apartment complex, completely overshadowed by such classy structures around, will the pre-schoolers here feel inspired to sing ‘Twinkle Twinkle little star’ anymore?
Preparations for exams followed by exams and then day-long holiday season camps and guests and vacations away from home kept our son busy, too busy to even realize the consequences of the growing concrete jungle just a few yards away. The mad season of friends and guests and holidays getting over with us all settling down to normalcy, one bright afternoon our son went running to the balcony with his binoculars. Our saddest moment came when his face fell as he screamed “This giant stole our sky?!”