By Haleema Tahir
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the youngest child in a group of children must, by necessity, do all activities with the same efficiency if not better. It was because of this, that one day I found myself face-to-face with you.
My god, you are loud. And you are in my way. Did you have to flirt and dance right in the middle? I don’t think I like you very much. Listen, you, I need to get across to the other side. That’s where the action is. This is the first time I am allowed outside the house with the older cousins! And you aren’t helping.
I toe just to the edge of the dry land between you and me. I take a deep breath. The breath comes out, and it’s very loud. I look upwards. My cousins have already turned the corner in the distance. Can you hear them calling out teams? You don’t really care, you’re laughing at me.
Pretty please, let me pass?
But you continue to gush and roar, laughing in my face. I frown, and I want to cry. I want my mommy.
I am ignoring you. Fine! I won’t speak to someone so mean. I turn my head as I walk. How far do you go exactly?
Then, there—there it is! It’s my turn to laugh as I rush across the grassy bridge loming in your way. I can feel you under the packed dirt. I run, just in case you take both the bridge and me down with you.
I’m on the other side! I wave at you as I skip towards the impromptu cricket field.
As a child and as an adult, most of the year I live next to open water. As a child in Pakistan, water was an adventure that we could only go on during trips to our Dad’s village. Winter vacation, summer vacation, and family gatherings weren’t complete without some sort of water activity: jumping over streams competitions, stone skipping in the river, swimming, or catching non-existent fish. Water was amazing, at times a friend and at times an enemy. Water was playful, fun, dangerous and most importantly powerful.
Then, it wasn’t. As a Bay Area citizen, I grew up learning about our local watershed and its sickness. That’s how a teacher described it. Suddenly, my view changed from water being something powerful and awe-inspiring to being feeble, old, and incapable. It was scary. It was terrifying. It was depressing. I felt like I was losing an old friend. That’s why I joined The Watershed Project.
I take off my work gloves. Throwing them into the dirty glove pile, I turn towards the worksite. My first day as a Green Collar Corps Intern for The Watershed Project was coming to an end. I weeded, put out mulch, picked up garbage, and cleaned the bioswale. There was no water here, not yet. The welcome preparation for my friend was done. Thanks to TWP, when my old friend visits this site, it will leave a little healthier and stronger. It will continue to dance and flirt; an adventure waiting for many young girls and boys in the future.