The Hills Have Eyes

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The Hills Have eyes

18 August 2016・Text and Photographs by Chahat Rana

Panoramic “All these buildings have a history. Nowadays, we have started to record and write them. Isn’t that great?” I smiled and nodded dutifully, suppressing the churning of questions and remarks like an itch that can only be be scratched in privacy. These strolls with my parents have forever been the same. The hills- lush green or dry brown, the sprawling colonial buildings and the lofty clouds painted a picture so soothing, I managed to temporarily forget the vivid pain of watching Delhi’s daily grind relentlessly unfold. I tell myself I come here for health and family. A well deserved break and a selfless contribution of my precious time to my parents. However this time, I wonder if there is more to my artless hillside isolations. There have been so many postings, and even more bungalows, a view of the seemingly stagnant stars, cups of tea and reading novels by the dip of the valley. I always stay on the top, at the edge of the mundane. I hide right where my reverie is undisturbed. I refuse to look down upon the congested villages of the locals, or the ‘civilians’, the stark opposite of the abundant greens where I reside. I have been taught not to be condescending, so I would much rather render them invisible. Instead, I look up to the web of lights on the hill opposite. It is Mussoorie, often hiding behind the barely translucent mesh of clouds, but easy to spot regardless. Frankly, I do enjoy reading the short history written on a plaque placed on the walls of the bungalows. These write-ups let me know that it is ok to ignore aspects of history that disturb our delicate conscience. They conveniently chose to erase the fact that these buildings were made by the civilians, then known as ‘natives’, just as I refuse to acknowledge that there are hands as young as mine which hold the trays of my milky tea. I would rather dismiss them with a curt and mechanic thank you. I have been brought up to be extremely polite, you see. Sadly, I am too polite. Too well mannered. I have never held anyone’s gaze for too long. But now the hills do not exist to be a part of my scenery, they stare back with suppressed rage, and I dare not avert my eyes.
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Chahat Rana is currently pursuing a liberal arts degree in English literature, the only thing Chahat has done is to read and write. So she writes: the good, the bad and especially the ugly. She believes that words weave messages and hence good expression is not just a literary necessity, but a responsibility.

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