Dear Punekar, you knew this was coming, right? We had to wait for the right moment, and now our seven voices will drown out the one voice in your head. Don’t be alarmed, we’re just going to have a conversation without expecting an argument. We have heard, seen, and tried to understand you. So today, it’s our turn to express. Please, bear with us. There’s a lot to say, and we know how busy you are. It’ll still be worth it.
Your average life span is sixty to seventy years; with the way you lead your life right now, that’s about to change. We have been here for a really long time, and we’ll still be here. Or at least that’s what we thought, but our existence is in danger. You are not the whole and sole source of the problem, we admit that, but you can be our savior. That is, if you listen and do as we say. The age of the concrete jungle has suffocated us, we can’t breathe. Something has to change, or we will be a part of history.
During the Peshwa era, we were Pune’s identity. Our names, after being derived from the days of the week, had given us a lot of importance. We were not just a place or a locality, we were the center of civilization, the hub for commerce and art. Agreed, the city was smaller and your population was manageable, but it was still a golden era. You are still flourishing, with or without us, but there was a time when we were the reason why you took pride in culture.
As you know, we, the seven sisters, have individual unique traits. Back then, these traits were the reason why Pune was a near-complete city. Then may it be the fight for freedom, or the Panshet floods, we became the backbone for Pune. You looked towards us for support, and we gave you everything we could. But now, things have changed. You’ve created alternatives for each of our traits, you barely need us. You have isolated us conveniently and make excuses when it’s time to address our problems. We are an important part of the city during elections, you look at us for approval and with the bare minimum help, you flaunt our changes, you treat us like trophy wives for your ambitions.
Please understand why we’re so important. As a part of your culture and economic resources, we’re still contributing heavily. If you look aside from your privileged life just for a second, you’ll see countless brothers and sisters who are still sustaining themselves only because of us. And yet, you want to encroach upon us and commercialize our very anatomy. A mall and a few posh residential areas will do very good for business, but they will kill our existence. You know this, so why do you still act like it’s a very small thing? Do you want to refer to us only when someone asks you about your culture and history?
Move forward along with us without forgetting us. Change is necessary, we all agree. However, change the way you look at us and look at life. Involve us in the city’s development without destroying our identity. For other cities, their ‘old’ part of the town is a source of love and respect, just like your parents. We want to be treated the same way. Protect us, and we will nurture the city.
Feature image by Parmeet Kohli.