Image Credit: Zahara Chetty
We live in the city. My great-grandparents came here long ago for work. Now, it’s too hot and difficult to live here. There are no jobs and people have just become scavengers. I see people everywhere, just like us, who have nowhere else to go. They all came here thinking they could make a life, and some of them were able to find a new place to live, but many of them are living on the streets, with nowhere to go. They huddle together under tarps or make their own homes with anything they can find, trying to stay dry and warm. I try to be grateful for what I have, but it’s hard to see my friends and neighbours suffering.
I remember the stories my grandparents used to tell me about how life used to be before the world changed. They would talk about how the weather used to be and how much they miss the good old days. They had four different seasons, imagine that! My grandmother said they would get different fruits and vegetables that would only grow in those seasons. She used to just wait for summer for her favourite fruit, called mangoes. There was always enough food to go around.
Now, life is very different. We’re luck if we get anything to eat most days. The heatwaves are so intense that sometimes it’s hard to even go outside. We spend most of our days inside. We can only walk the streets late in the evening or at night, and even then, it is too dangerous. Most people tend to stay inside. The streets are empty and the sun beats down mercilessly. The air is thick with dust and pollution and I can hear the sound of fans or air conditioners running non-stop, trying to keep people cool. Clanking and whirring away in the distance.
When it does rain, it comes in sudden, violent storms that flood the streets and wash away everything that isn’t held down. The concrete does not allow the water to go anywhere. Sometimes after the rains we take out our makeshift boats to see what we can salvage. There isn’t any clean water or electricity. The power plants have long shut down. There is no more coal. They didn’t think about changing to something better when we had the money and the time. Now, people make do with batteries or solar panels that they find along the way. Everything has been stolen. A lot of what we have, we put together ourselves.
Sometimes I close my eyes and try to imagine that the world was green again. I think of all the stories my grandmother told me and try to picture what life might have been like if they left the city a long time ago. I heard there are still green places like that on Earth. One day I am going to leave here and make the journey. I want to go to the mountains and see for myself. I am sure there is still something out there that can be salvaged. I’ve had hope ever since I was a little child, that one day I will see the mango trees from my grandmother’s stories in real life.