“Ammi jaan, I will take the horse for a walk and return by noon.” Said 8-year-old Asifa to her mother. “Come soon beta. Do not go far’’ replied her mother. As Asifa held the horse by her tiny hands, she could feel the strength of it and found it difficult to control it. She was no stranger to the job. The horse too felt at ease with known hands trying to take control of it, and it yielded soon. The grass was wet with morning due. Sun was yet to shine its brightest! Asifa tread slowly feeling the wet ground beneath her and sounds of birds echoing in her ears. These were lands known to the little girl. She belonged to a nomadic tribe and mother earth was their closest aid. a relative of hers had warned her country’s army during their most crucial war, when an enemy had treacherously entered their lands. Her tiny limbs began to ache, let me return and rest, she thought. Her Horse began to whine, she thought it was protesting against returning. But it did not take her long to realise why it was whining. She heard voices. Their horses were well trained to recognise strangers as they spend most of their time in forests. Asifa turned around, she saw 4 men approaching her. They were strangers. Her heart beat faster, she thought they had come to steal her Horse. She held the rope tightly, there was a cunning smile on their lips. One of them came near and freed her hold on the horse and pushed the horse away. She realised they had come not for the horse but her! Tears swelled in her eyes, her throat felt dry, her heart skipped a beat out of fear. Who were they? Why did they come for her? The man who had pushed the horse away lifted her and held her to his shoulders and started to walk briskly. She began to resist tried to loosen the hold. It was in vain, he was too strong for her. Tears rolled down fast, all four men were laughing triumphantly. They continued their journey for a while and stopped near a prayer hall. Asifa felt slightly comforted. She knew this place; her father had brought her here once when she was unwell. A friend of his had told him, a visit to this place would cure her of her illness. She felt relieved. Maybe they were her father’s friends and they were playing with and abba might be waiting inside for her! Her hopes vanished the instant the doors were pushed open. It was empty. A huge statue of a goddess stood at the other end of the hall. Except that it remained empty. Asifa was thrown into the floor. She looked at them with bewildered eyes, she knew not what was going on! One among them uttered, “I am first”, and walked towards her. “you swine! You do not belong here! Go back to your lands! This land is ours! Only our people have right to make it their home”, he thundered as he came closer to her. “beti, we are children of mother earth. There is no one piece of land to call our own, but we must befriend every piece of land which belongs to mother earth.” Her father had told her once. “may be this land we are using now, does not belong to mother earth. Hence, they are asking us to leave”, she thought. “I must tell this to Abba, that is why they are warning me”. She tried to stand up, “I’m sorry chacha. I will tell abba and ammi to leave immediately. We did not know this land does not belong to us”, she said. “Who is your chacha! You filthy creature!” the man pushed her down again. This time there was rage in his voice. She shuddered, he bent down towards her.
She could barely breath. The child in her had died three days ago. Her whole body ached. She could not cry as her tears had died. She had heard many things they spoke, one of them had come some faraway place to punish her. “You and your People do not belong here!”, she had heard this again and again. Every time they punished her, they kept uttering it. Sun was shining brightly outside, she could feel it on her battered face. “She has had it enough. It will scare the hell out of their wretched lot. Let us end it.” One of them said. She thought she would be sent home now. The thought comforted the debilitated soul a little. She was carried outside. The man who had arrived a few minutes ago, he was wearing a uniform, was carrying her. “Let me also do it once” he said with a smile. Other laughed! Even before she could come to terms with these words, she was punished again! This time outside and grass below her, her beloved mother earth seemed a stranger today, as she did not find the solace from her even as she slept on the ground. Every time her mother scolded her, she rushed the grasslands to lie upon it and she felt mother earth embraced her to her bosom comforting her. Today was different, she felt the ground below her piercing through her heart as she was punished. All the men surrounded her. They held a large stone, they raised it towards the sky blurring the sun as Asifa’s eyes felt darkness engulfing her.
Mother earth had lost a child. And the land had lost Humanity!