Lost Deeps: A Story from the Shady Old Pond Under the Tree

Pond lined with plastic sheet
An artificial pond lined with plastic sheet

I wonder how harsh even the evening sun can be. Relentlessly pouring heat into the soil already scorched since first light. And then, I see quite something. A herd of Nilgai, blue bulls, cross the muddy road, wilting under the turbid summer sun.

Quietly, the beautiful antelopes tiptoe to a pond, perched next to an agricultural field. It’s Mansarovar in Jaipur– named after the iconic sarovar in the Indian scriptures, brimming with life-giving waters. Ironically enough though, this space my eyes find themselves wandering in experiences severe water shortage today.

Green agricultural field with pond at an edge
Agricultural field with a pond located near the perimeter

The nilgai have found what they came for. But not my eyes. From my apartment balcony overlooking the field from the sixth floor, I gaze ever more strongly. Water. Beneath the canopy of the Acacia shimmer blue waters. Silent. Still.

But the nilgai seem a little perturbed. That’s when I notice the anatomy of the pond. The water isn’t lovingly held by the warmth of the earth. It’s restrained by an ugly plastic sheet clawing at the mud, the pond liner.

A black plastic sheet-lined artificial pond with blue bulls close to the pond
Plastic sheet-lined artificial pond with nilgai deer grazing close-by

Like the summer sun boiling mercury in an instant, sparing not even the evenings, mankind seeks fast ways to hold on to the last drop. Rapidly, conveniently.

But that’s not how traditional wisdom works. Sieved by millennia of intimately experiencing the climate and the ways of the earth at the grassroots level, indigenous knowledge thrives on harnessing nature for nature.

There’s unfathomable art and science in the shady old pond under the village tree, shaped by hands that have known the soil, the stones, the air, the clouds, the trees, the wind. Hands that have felt them all. Souls that have known the space they inhabit.

The antelopes walk away.

The plastic sheet flutters with a gush of wind. And the earth smiles from beneath.

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