Green Dam

Just a quick entry. Got an idea for a short story in my seminar yesterday and had to get it down on ‘paper’ before it drove me insane! Again, its just a rough draft so no doubt there are some grammatical errors and punctuation mistakes. As usual, all comments and feedback are welcome. Email address is in the ‘ABOUT’ section if you’d rather post it privately. Enjoy!


Green Dam


The water from the river shone brightly in the sunlight. It was dazzling to stare at but I had been doing it my whole life, it was nothing new to me.

My mother stood by the rivers edge and dipped what little clothes we had into the shining water, making it as clean as she could with the soap she had made from ingredients in the forest.

I paddled further into the water, careful not to let it rise above my neck, the current as strong but so was I, and my body was more then capable of keeping pace with the force of the water.

The water was warm and the thought of losing its vital life giving brought a tear that was quickly washed away once I dunked my head below the water’s skin.

When I re-emerged I could se my mother calling me over to the banks. I swam gracefully back to her and collected a shirt with a small tear in it that looked like it was about to get pulled down the river.

“Thank you my little pani ghora,” she said with a smile on her lips, “you were out too far.”

Ammee! I was not, I was not too far out at all!” I could hear my voice whine as I said it.

“Don’t argue with your ammee little one,” she chided softly.

“You let Bhishma play in the river,” I whispered under my breath.

“Bhishma is earning a living and don’t sass your ammee,” she said, hearing me mutter as only a mother can.

“Those factory owners and their western ways,” I had set her off, “bringing over their lapse values and building their unnatural dams.”

Her voice was getting more and more high pitched as she spoke. I turned my head away, not keen on watching my mother cry. I looked out into the middle of the river and watched my brother, Bhishma, dump a bowl of sand from the river bed onto a boat that floated peacefully in the warm Indian air.

It was at times like this I missed my Baba. He had been gone for two years now and each day had stayed as hard as the last one for my family. I was too young to really remember him but the stories Bhishma told me about him made me swell with pride.

“He was the best sand miner in the entire valley,” he had told me one night not long after he had passed. “He could reach the river bed and be back up with a full bowl of sand twice over before anyone else had even reached the bottom.

“He was fast and strong. He would never let the filthy saanps take away our home.”

It was only a few days now until the builders came. The man with his clipboard was already in the village over. Ticking names and marking houses. These were the people that would be moved somewhere else, the ‘lucky’ ones that would get moved somewhere else.

Lucky was not the right word, even I knew that, India was vast and exciting but people had lived in the same land for hundreds of years; moving them from there home would scar them for generations more.

The clipboard man would never come here, not to our small village. We weren’t even deemed worthy of getting moved, I doubted he even knew we were here.

It was sad to think in a few short days that all everything I had ever known would be sunk deep beneath a reservoir behind a dam very soon. Stupid saanps. I hurled a rock into the water and watched it splash and ripple out.

“How does the city live now?” I asked.

“What do you mean?” she asked as she stopped scrubbing my red shorts.

“If they need the water, how do they live now without it?”

“They have water little curious parinda, they need more.”

“But do they know what they are doing to us?” I didn’t quite understand that there was anything other than mild teasing in the world.

“Some do, some don’t, most don’t care, this is an India of industrialization not of Ghandian love.”

I knew about Mohandus Ghandi, he had given us independence from the British and without harming anyone. My mother was a massive fan and often cited him to me as a role model for peace and love. She wanted me to grow up as a man of tranquility, even at my tender age I knew these words better than most as she spoke them so often. However, one word stood out.

“What is an inbustranish?” my lips asked too inexperienced to pronounce it right.

“An indust-rial-ist,” she sounded out, “is a ma who is greedy beyond all reason. He sees nothing but rupees and directs his life to selfish goals.”

“But aren’t rupees good ammee?”

“They can be, but often people see nothing other than rupees and do things to harm other people.”

“Like taking away our home?”

“Exactly, they promise to make India a powerful country once again.”

“Is it worth it?”

“It depends if you are looking at rupees or kindness.”

“And we are looking at kindness?”

“I am. You are allowed to look at either one you prefer.”

That made me pause for a moment. I had never thought of myself as having an opinion different from my ammee’s. I lived in a world of kindness and look where it had got us. Mining sand from a river, that would soon become a reservoir; washing our clothes with soap made from debris in the forest; not even being noticed by men that will take away everything we have ever known.

The world did not seem to be one of kindness. It seemed to be one that revolved around rupees, and how could anyone change it if they did not follow its current rules?

Rupees, for most, may be synonymous with unkindness and I guess it always would. Unless someone changed it.

I looked out onto the glittering surface of the river beneath the sun. My brothers body breaking its diamond body. As I thought of the man and the clipboard, so ready to take all this away with one stupid line from his plastic stick, I was filled with a feeling that I usually only felt when Bhishma hid my blanket at night; except stronger.

I threw another rock into the river. I was angry, really angry.

Filthy saanps.



Pani – Water

Ghora – Horse

Ammee – Mother

Baba – Father

Saanps – Snake

Parinda – Bird


2 thoughts on “Green Dam

  1. freakreborn says:

    was the “knew” in the first paragraph intended? Very insightful story you have there. One suggestion, I being from the sub-continent myself understand most of the desi words here but for people who have never experienced our language i suggest you provide a glossary of some sort or maybe just writing the meanings in brackets.

    1. C. A. McAleese says:

      No, that was a complete mistake and quickly rectified! Added a glossary to the bottom, never even thought about that. Thank you for the suggestion!

      I hope you enjoyed the story and thank you for calling it ‘insightful’, I’ve never had any feedback before! Much appreciated.

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