Source: Hasiru Dala

We settled on a land that was on the fringes, 

We paid rent or managed to buy a small piece of land

At first, we constructed tent houses, 

But now we have some concrete structures,

10/10, that’s what most of us could afford

How were we to know the difference

Of living in a place that was swampy 

How were we to know the difference

Of living in a low lying area

How were we to know the difference

Of  living near or on the drain

You feel sorry at our naivety, 

Our riches are scare,

But we are hardworking

You may abhor us

Or pity our abysmal conditions

You wonder what secrets lie behind the filth

An eye sore you call us

You say, we have encroached

And will not escape a demolition

You pity us, 

When it swells under the days of rains

And washes away our rations 

And leave us sleepless…

At times you sympathise, 

While we wait for some relief and rehabilitation,

But do you know of the myriad exclusions that we face?

Do you know that our representations are often taken for granted?

How do we interrogate the powerful?

We are often just described as the vulnerable

But how do you address the social justice agenda, 

When you have siloed conversations?

Do you know that the city of  Bengaluru is a paradox ? 

While the city continues to bask in the status of the “Silicon Valley”,

We often have many uncertainties to encounter – 

From the threat of evictions, to lack of basic services 

And very often the lack of intergenerational mobility

Our homes are often sites for intense contestations

Our expectations are often denied or ignored

How long should be suffer from policy myopia

The hydro social scars run deep

There is panic and anguish

And while we go about our daily life

We ask this question

How long will you manipulate water?

For we cannot live in a cycle of neglect

We are hopeful of new possibilities

For us and the storm water drain

– Pinky Chandran, October 2022.

Source: Action Aid