Sold (– A Letter from Ahmedabad)
– Vidisha Barwal

This is an expression from a migrant student who aspires to pursue advanced studies in the city of Ahmedabad that were otherwise not possible in a small town. However, in the run to achieve a better life, an inverse dimension of thought is stricken. This thought is guided by ground realities of the city which repeatedly fail to perform justice with the student’s perception. Consequently, a pause is arrived at, to reflect back on what has been left behind, but only to face the city’s mirage. This indirectly throws light upon how far have we been successful at all to construct and design cities which grant a quality of life to its inhabitants.

There was a giant mountain
Behind another mountain,
Lit by houses
Like stars laden to its silhouette.
And here I am, in a desert.
Where giant are the buildings
Laden with all fancy and bright,
Making me blind.

There was a gushing river,
Schools of fish,
The Victoria bridge I looked from,
Beside which lay an ancient cave.
And here I am, on a parapet,
Watching a dead stream.
Beside which lies a new road,
Golden but grave.

There was plenty of air,
Pure and cold.
Fragrance of the fresh,
An elixir to breath.
And here I am, amidst the puffs
Of smoke, flying dust.
For the future’s lure,
My breath is sold.

There was a forest.
A forest of chirps,
Of snarls, roars.
Belonging to the fittest,
Assemblage of hopes.
And here I am, again in a forest
Of concrete, horns and honks.
Belonging to the weaks
Of intelligent stature.
Entangled in the illusion of the past,
Now, fixing futures.
There was a sky so blue,
Where my dreams would fly
With a circus of stars
And find way,
Lit by the moon.
Here, I am, chasing those
Under a hazy roof,
Dusky days, my way at the mercy,
Lit by a street pole.

Because city night is never black,
Twinkling is a lost phenomenon.
I gaze at a bigger solitary moon
For that is all I have, here,
As I write where I am.
Image: Photomontage Ahmedabad-Himachal. Source: Author’s own.

Vidisha Barwal is a Landscape Architect (MLA post-graduate, Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology, India). Hailing from a Himalayan state, she was always intrigued by nature since childhood. During her journey as an architecture student (National Institute of Technology, Hamirpur, India), she was deeply impacted by natural processes and their delicate inter-dependencies. Her strong inclination towards the subject led her to explore the field of Landscape Architecture through subtle and sensitive design approaches. She has previously presented her work on ‘Pollinator-Friendly Design’  in the National Conference on Envisioning India 2050 (Pune, India), and is also working as a contributing writer for the global magazine “MyLiveableCity (India+Netherlands)”, covering the subjects such as people-pollinator design, and ethnobotany. She has written on cultural ties with the landscape of the Himalayan region for IanMcBlog’s “1


Volume 3, no. 3 Autumn 2020