Everyone needs space to breathe.
Everyone needs something to run away to, to simply restore.
Everyone needs something to return from, renewed, centred and ready to roll.
A playing field is that breathing ground to anyone who has felt their lungs fire up mid-game, mid-run or mid-any-workout.

Over the past few days, I have seen a village claim their right to breathe, in their demand, confident efforts and passion for a playground.
They have battled the unavailability of modern machinery by manually felling, clearing and decluttering a ground.
They have battled dust storms, the scorching Sun and erratic winds by staying put and playing their part in restoring mud, soil and sand where there were craters.

When a tractor finally came, I have seen fathers whose daughters will play on this ground, fit shovels at its front and heavy metal at its rear to smoothen the ground soon to be beneath their girls’ feet.

A ground was cleared, levelled and flattened.
A playground now stood where ruin once did.
A village moved a mountain for more air.

The sight of children playing in an area built just for them, by those who love and care for them, is a painstakingly wrapped gift filled with cackles and chuckles and bruises and band-aids and fights fast diffused and fellowship and friendships and team spirit.
The sight of tender but tough and slender but solid girls bringing their best game to a field is a wonder.
The sight of feet bouncing off the ground is a small but soothing miracle that everyone should witness – an act I wish everyone could experience the magic of.
The usage of a playground is quite truly a tiny celebration of just how large and real a role the earth plays in helping us feel rooted and yet, lofty.

When those girls ran nimbly onto that ground today, a breath was taken in.
A whole village exhaled when their laughter mingled with the wind, making its way to what we hope is another breathing space in-the-making not so far away,
Where a village fights for its children to simply play.
And in that quest, discovers its breath.


(This piece belongs to a series titled, “The Rural Dispatch”, on the network.)



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