Adania Saraswati’s story—deliberately typed in all lowercase letters—is beautiful in its poetic imagery and deliberate ambiguity. Its title speaks to its interrogative nature, a question that we all have and perhaps will never be able to answer. Nonetheless, we march forward…
halfway through sifting rice, you remember a phrase.
a pipe dream.
a pipe dream, you repeated your classmates’ words, their laughter echoing in your ears. the same sound would accompany you decades later as your hands, dusty and bloody, rebuild this piece of land and water into something closer to a utopia.
together with millions of other dreamers.
you had roared back to your classmates: our forefathers and foremothers dreamt the same dream, to carve a country they could call their own.
they said: wake up, buddy, we are no longer under the claws of colonialism!
you found your tongue numb, words sinking into your stomach. those people were long gone, but their legacies remained. their empty seats were filled by people who spoke your languages and were born to withstand the ever-scorching heat of the tropics. you were taught that only by appeasing them you could survive in the modern world—your study was meant to serve their interests, your career was meant to deepen their pockets, and even your family was tailored to model their one and only ideal.
your pipe dream was simply seeing people’s smiles wherever you go. it was never to worry about what to eat tomorrow because this land had always provided, always sheltered, and always supported your ancestors until today, until those gifts were coveted by few and shied away from the rest of the world.
your ancestors fought them, and in return, they mocked your gods, your customs, your food—until several years ago, you could see this happening anywhere, whether out of ignorance or not, and still, people like your classmates said you have no right to protest those mistreatments.
don’t you feel sad about this? you wanted to ask them, but you were busy building and healing. your throat hurts trying to tell them, so you chose to show them instead—
you return to your task, cooking rice for a small feast. people have gathered here, under a clear sky, bringing with them various bounties of the earth from their homes. you met them online years back, sharing your dreams of making the world a better place—at least in this region, where your ancestors once bled and fought for their freedom.
(you understood those sceptics, though; it was hard to fight for a bigger cause when one had mouths to feed and bills to pay.)
it was no small feat. together you brought back forgotten myths. together you made way for research to harmonise humanity with nature once more. this corner of earth deserves to flourish without sacrificing its land.
you place the rice on the table. everyone is smiling, eager to start eating.
your fight is worth it.