Pahad Aur Nadi (Mountain and River)
There is a place in every community and neighbourhood where what is not being used lives, that which once had a purpose, collects dust in great piles of nothingness.
There is one such place in the kalonie. A square piece of land with piles of rubble, broken bricks left over from some construction long ago. A rusty metal staircase lies over two piles of rubble, forming a sort of bridge.
One wonders why the rubble and the staircase are still here. An entire designated spot for them in a place where land is not easily accessible to most. A closer look and we see that the staircase that looks like a bridge, is also a makeshift clothes rack. People have hung their towels, clothes, laundry to dry on the railings of this ladder - bridge - clothes rack. Repurposing at its best. The bridge an invitation to cross over from one pile of rubble to the next, from one world to the next. An assortment of colours, patterns, textures and an occasional hello kitty waves at us upside down.
A few moments later we are joined by a few children from the community. They come running and ask us if we would like to play a game? “What game can we play”, we ask?
‘Pahad aur Nadi’ (Mountain and River) they say, like it’s the most obvious thing . The game is fairly simple, the pile of rubble is the mountain and the land around it is the river. The players on the mountain are the runners and those in the river are the chasers. The player in the river must try to climb the mountain and touch one of the players, who is then banished to the river and must climb the mountain to touch another player. An improvised game of tag, juxtaposed against the mountain of broken bricks.
Often in our daily lives we forget our ability to imagine, to create otherworlds, to play, to make our own rules. We forget to cross the bridges between our inner and outer worlds. And sometimes it takes a child to remind us that an entire multiverse can exist in a pile of nothingness.