The Balloon Travels Pvt. Ltd.
He was a balloon, big, bright and red and round,
With a hot belly. A piece of whom, I, one day, found.
He had a small carrier, fit for four, from where,
One could see far and wide, here and there.
A small piece, burnt and torn,
That told tales of his travel,
To places far and wide,
Over oceans, deserts, gravel.
Made in India, by a big rubber factory,
He had fallen while being transported in a lorry.
Then came into the hands of a poor child,
Who had, till then, lived in the wild.
He used him to earn his daily bread,
Till, one day, alas, some thieves tread
At his stall, and pulled the ropes free,
And the balloon flew…Weeeeee!
He flew far, far, far away,
Unsure if he would ever come back,
Across huge lands and wide rivers,
Through clouds, white and black.
He journeyed forth to the land called China,
A place where there were just too many Chinese,
They saw him with great awe, the wonder he was,
Till he got stuck onto some tall, huge trees.
A man and his dog came to him, rescued him.
As he was about to fly off, the dog sat on his carriers brim.
The reason was clear; there were men with guns there,
They shot the poor man, stole his purse, and went, I don’t know where.
The poor dog, hence went with the balloon,
As he traveled forth. He asked the dog about China.
Said the dog, “It’s such a crowded place!
Dirty politics and gang wars prevalent in the area!
It’s like a one man rule, despite the so called democracy,
They thrash anyone who dare oppose them. Where
They eat us animals as food so well,
Tell me, am I to survive there?
The balloon and his friend, the dog,
Journeyed forth, amidst migrating wonders,
To the land of the rising sun, Japan,
Itself one of the modern wonders.
They looked around in awe, at the city in metal.
Awestruck, at the technology and the people,
He told the dog, “This is heaven,”
And he lowered himself over a ripple,
That was none other than a mountain range.
And he guessed, he had perhaps, too far, traveled
It was Japan, surely, but this didn’t look like it.
For he spotted volcanoes that stretched.
And one of them was about to spurt.
People ran like they were being hunted mercilessly…
The balloon stayed there, trying hard not to touchdown,
While a cat jumped into his carrier, breathing heavily.
She said, “Quick! Fly away! This is an emergency!”
So with the dog and the cat, the balloon set out, once more
On their travels far and wide,
That were solitary no more.
The balloon asked the cat, “How is Japan?”
“Extreme” was the reply. “Here you have a city,
Of metal, where life does not seem to stop.
It’s hard to cope up with life. It’s a pity.
And there, you have the countryside,
Where the mornings are fresh and the dew is wet,
But alas! The countryside remains safe no more,
For it is outlined by volcanoes’ threat!
The country is hit by disasters every year!
People die a brutal death, at the hands of nature,
Eruptions, landslides, earthquakes and tsunamis,
Tell me, who wants to live such a life of torture?”
As he said this, the balloon flew over
The huge, wide Pacific Ocean. To end the suffer
Of thirst, that the animals felt, he bent down, low
Brushing against the surface of cool water.
A flying fish leapt – he settled himself in a tank,
Inside the carrier of the balloon, where he gracefully swam.
The balloon asked, “What happened, my friend?”
But the fish was shocked, as if he had just jumped from a dam.
“The water down there’s polluted!” he said.
“We can’t survive in there! With destructive
Plastics and carcinogens at such high levels,
Tell me, can we in such circumstances survive?”
“Come along with me then” said the balloon.
And together, they reached North America. He
Sailed over the Grand Canyon, racing the Amazon,
Over large buildings, and arrived in New York City.
The big talk one hears about New York,
Are mere lies! Here and there the balloon and his mates
Heard gun shots and yells. A woman and her child
Were being chased by gangsters, like helpless primates!
The balloon came low, to try and help them.
The woman shoved her child into the carrier and fled…
And BANG! As she did so, she was shot,
Right through her head, and her eyes bled….
But the balloon didn’t stop. He flew far…far….
As the child watched its mother drowned in a pool of blood…
The spectacle getting smaller and smaller, he wondered
At the brutality of a deed he had only heard…
His own mother slain before his eyes,
He saw the men take her purse
They took out some cash and jewels
And left the scene sparing no time to hear her curse.
“Developed though we may be,” said the child,
“The city is hell. Gang wars take place every hour.
The crime rate is high, kidnapping, thieving
And murder of the innocent devoid of power.
And as though that were not enough, there are
Natural hazards, a lot to worry. O what a world!”
But the rest of the story the balloon did not hear,
For the winds pulled him south. On ice, he was hurled.
He tried to fly higher, but felt himself lowering.
His heat was being lost, and he searched for something hot.
But there was no sign of life, let alone heat. And
The ice was cracking, like an earthen pot.
At some distance he saw penguins; he called
Them for help. They said, “Brother Polar Bear
Will take you to the volcano. And there you shall
Have as much heat as you can wear.”
So Polar Bear took the balloon and his friends
To the big volcano, and threw them into the mouth.
The balloon took some heat, and started rising
Till he had enough heat to escape from the South.
He thanked the inhabitants of the South,
And away he flew, with his friends.
Said they, “The South is full of ice,
We can’t live there”. Around bends
He turned, and on peaks he flew,
Till he reached the Sahara Desert. Breezy,
Sandy and lots of heat, but not a drop of water
To drink; the animals began to get uneasy.
They were starving, they were dying,
Yet the balloon was helpless. And
One day, the fish’s tank was dried.
He died, and was buried in bare sand.
They then reached the Mediterranean Sea
But the dog and cat would budge no more.
So the child went to get them some water,
And as he returned, the animals were no more.
They bade them farewell, and the friends now split,
The dog and cat took their path to the world of unknown,
While the balloon and the child continued,
On their journey which was with sorrow, sown.
As they flew to more places, they only saw war,
And the child asked, “O Balloon, you have traveled
Places. But is there none, where the world is beautiful?
Where there is peace and harmony unparalleled?”
Said the balloon, “Alas, I know just one place,
My motherland, India, the place where I was born.”
And he flew to Coromandel Coast, but alas!
All his expectations were gone…
It looked different from his vision of India.
He settled himself on a coconut tree on the coast.
He asked the tree, “Hey brother, you are here
Since ages. Can you tell me what’s there to boast?”
The tree said, “Well, you have traveled places
But I have stayed on. We are no different from the world
Either. Discrimination, dirty politics and fights,
Abuse, money games, population, all is unfurled
Before you.” The balloon was shocked.
“India is known as Land of Gods, but when
Did it seem like heaven?”. The child said,
“O Balloon, take me to a place, then,
Which is like paradise. Where beauty
Peace and harmony is a never changing trend,
Where no man hates each other,
Is there such a place, my friend?”
The balloon had no answer. The child got down,
And walked away, while he tried to fly
Into the blue skies once again. But he realized,
That he had aged. His youth had gone by.
And there, a zooming catapult bullet
Struck him, as he finally burst.
And he reached his final, peaceful abode,
A much needed quench for his thirst.
To you, he may seem just a balloon,
But to me, he is a voice, telling me the unkind
Truth about the world of today. But whether
Man realizes his faults, and improves mankind,
I don’t know.
But that’s all I have to say,
As I hold this piece of burnt rubber and slime,
Which was a big, bright red balloon…
Once upon a very, very long time…
-Composed by Ankur Jay