My beloved Madras,
Happy birthday! Turning 377 is no mean feat and turning so to be younger, vibrant and busy year on year is definitely something to be proud of. Obviously we can only think and dream of the energy that you achieve every year.
Born as Chennai in 1639, you have come a long way. Battling out an identity crisis between being Madras and Chennai, going through all the tremendous transformations physically and culturally, withstanding misery, seeing your arteries clogged and throat choked, you have lived a complete life.
You have played a beautiful role by providing livelihood to thousands of dreamers and travellers who didn’t want to die. Kodambakkam has seen more stories than all the theatres put together. T Nagar has seen more happiness than anything else ever seen before. You have fulfilled and fueled people’s lives and livelihood.
How does it feel to see your children scourging your body mercilessly, in the greed to have more? How does it feel to pollute your insides with the dusty air and scummy water? How does it feel to grow from a naive, fair maiden to a wily and bold woman? Was the transformation worth it? Did you feel awesome to have outgrown the expectations set for you? I guess not.
While people remember you once in a year for the history that you hold, people stomp on you every single minute for their own greedy pursuits. I saw the floods as your fury against the rampant encroachment that you were being subjected to and sweetie, I am so sorry for your plight. I can do only so much for your comfort, for I am not as benevolent a mother as you were, are and always will be.
I can probably say goodbye to my dreams of owning a house so that you can heave a sigh of relief. I can probably carry a cloth bag with me always so that you can stay free from the lecherous polythene that violate you. I can choose to reduce my use of own vehicle so that you can breathe better air once in a whiile. I can plant a few saplings and take care of them like you did of me, so that you can be cool when the world is spewing fire.
It saddens me to see people treat you this way. It makes me miserable to stand witness to such atrocities by your own children. It oddly reminds me of those merciless kids and their old parents and the name boards of old age homes. It pushes me into those deep chasms of helplessness and misery.
I am sorry on all our behalf for such an onslaught. Honestly I have no idea as to when you will be back to those good old days. In fact, although I wish I could deny it, it seems impossible ever.
You shall be that maiden who had millions chasing her for some love. You shall be that mother who had given that compassionate smile to not just your baby but to all the babies who were abandoned and shunned by the society. You shall be that father who carried all the burden of life, without as much a whimper, just to see his family smile. You shall be that sibling who was promptly present, twitching one’s arms, when the other sibling was in trouble. You shall be the soulmate who understood my thoughts and lived, just so that I can live my dreams. Finally, you shall be that grandparent, who stealthily pampers the grandkid with loads of love and what-nots with an abundance of love.
Here’s to you, a very happy birthday sweetheart, you are the darling of millions of people!