Farmer’s Daughters As Waterfalls
New York, NY
2023, Junior, Poetry & Spoken Word
Climate Hero: Disha Ravi, Fridays For Future India
with their guns pressed to our throats, our voices
turn to choked whispers and we are silenced.
again and again. poor bodies as mere vessels for
the wealthy’s labor.
my grandfather’s calloused palms tug mango flesh
from the trees, my grandmother drags sacks of rice to
the markets and the oceans are flooding our fields
yet they value us like they value dirt flattened
beneath the well-polished dress shoe,
leave us to drown in oceans that we
did not set aflame,
leave us in crises for which we
are not responsible.
see us, see us trodden upon, street dung.
where once there was earth, there is coal and diesel
and flooded farmland; there are the gaunt and hungry,
the victims of this dying planet earth.
the ocean splinters into flames – this land as nothing
but a battleground between the money that is burning
down homes and the poor bodies being dragged away
in chains for begging and begging for change.
see us, see us fallen and abused, the way they have
stripped us of our homes and devastated our livelihoods.
but we will rip words from our throats.
this is our protest: daughters of the generations past
defending our homeland and protecting the earth
that is our ancestors’ cultivation.
in this time of alternating droughts and floods, our
words will pour in droplets from the waterfall’s lip
and restore the balance of centuries’ past.
My work was inspired by my Indian heritage. In recent years, pollution has skyrocketed in the country largely due to significant industrialization and construction efforts. When reading about this issue, I learned about Disha Ravi, an Indian climate activist who saw the effects of drought on the farm her grandparents owned. Because of this, she became an impactful climate activist, fighting for the rights of the planet we live on as well as the rights of the farmers who cultivate it. Her work is critical. She brings attention to the diverse effects of climate change, as often the worst effects are in poor, rural areas unseen by the media. In this time of mass farming by corporations overtaking lesser-emitting family farms, Disha Ravi fervently protects the natural flora of India and brings many others to action alongside her. This work in her home state of Karnataka - the home state of my own parents and the many generations before them - struck me particularly in how her love for her grandparents led to her embracing climate action. There is no future for any of us without a future for the planet, and I find that to be a beautiful element of her activist efforts. In my piece, I work to convey the need to protect family farms to prevent over-industrialization. Furthermore, I build a parallel between the suppression of climate activists globally (as Ravi was once arrested for her climate protests, the government considering her work an act of “sedition and conspiracy”) and the criticality of such activism in order to see change. With dedicated activism from individuals such as Ravi, the worsening of current issues can be avoided, and hopefully, the damage already inflicted on the planet can be undone.