Opinion Columnists 09 May 2020 Planet Earth’s ...
Sriram Karri is the author of the bestselling, MAN Asian Literary Prize longlisted novel, Autobiography of a Mad Nation

Planet Earth’s letter to prodigal sapiens progeny

Published May 9, 2020, 7:13 pm IST
Updated May 9, 2020, 7:17 pm IST
I feel forced for sake of political compulsion to consider you my children and view my role as maternal
Representational image (AFP)
 Representational image (AFP)

Dear human beings,
Let us spare the niceties. I won’t begin asking you how you are. I know exactly how you are. I am actually writing to let you on to a little secret  mea culpa. I am who put you in the spot you are in, and maybe when I reflect more, you alone are responsible for how you are right now.

Generally, I am not one given in much to indulgences of epistolary exchanges. But I am finally writing to you because I feel exhausted of other options. And anyway, you seldom seem to get it.


I feel forced for sake of political compulsion to consider you my children and view my role as maternal. But you singularly, amongst my myriad offspring, are absolutely insensitive to listen to your mother. It has been my biggest challenge in bringing you up since the beginning. You just don’t seem to listen, understand or care.

Mommy maybe loving but you don’t have a monopoly over everything she has to give. She has patience but it has limits. And you are not the only living being.
Maybe it was the fault of my upbringing of you, this tolerance to your early transgressions. Even when you took more than your share or put in jeopardy all my other children, I did not get too angry. With excessive indulgence, I took pride in your accomplishments.


You were the only one who went beyond the book, rebelling against me, creating extraordinary things and reinvented rules. You cared to learn of my secrets, not just exist like the others. Maybe I should have seen where this was going to head long, long ago.

I could have put a stop to your progress at the stage of discovery of fire itself, or maybe when you sharpened those flint stones. Or should it have been either copper or iron. The more you bent the limits I imposed, the more I mutely remained the mother who just winked it away.

My fault for thinking you would stop on your own though, because no matter how severe the stretch, no matter how close to brink you drag me and everyone along to, no matter how unambiguous or numerous the warnings, you won’t stop or change.


Do I hear you say that I did not give any warnings? What did you think all those earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, mega floods, unseasonal rainfall and increasingly severe droughts and heat spells were all about? Your response, and I am not surprised anymore, was the same insensitive, indifferent shrug.
Some of you plant a few shrubs, some of you switch off those abominable, intolerable air-conditioners and hurting-to-my-eyes lights for an hour, and think it is enough. Earth hour, really? An hour a year?

How many of you are there now anyway? Over a seven billion? Even paused to consider what my upper limit for your tribe is? Do you not expect me to get angry at some point and say enough is enough? You were counting on that, right? Don’t, not any more.


It is funny your answer to making life close to being unsustainable on terra firma is to plan to colonise Mars. Good luck to my cosmic neighbour, and you guys, and your captain Elon Musk, on that.

But as far as life around me goes, since you won’t, I had to stop you. Yeah, a little sorry about that sneaky little virus I packed as a New Year gift for all of you. Putting those crowns on them was pure fun actually. Pure innovation!
How is it going though? Finally had to shut your little business down, did you not? Closed down those furnaces, parked your cars and trucks, stopped all your trains and planes, and are sitting at home. Hopefully, you are introspecting.
Meanwhile, all your cousins are enjoying a greater fairer share of their mother. Deer and tigers, rhinos and elephants, birds and reptiles, wasps and bees, fish and whales, sharks and turtles; each one of them is living it a little better with you on a forced vacation, on a backseat. Maybe I should do this more often? Maybe once every year.
What did you think about life after all of these last few weeks? Learnt anything? Something inside you changed? Will you be different once it is over?
Are you praying I put an end to this? That you have been punished enough? Sorry. You figure this one out. And no matter how tired you are of the pandemic, or some self-imposed lockdown, I am not fully done healing.


Nor do I have a doubt once you trickle out of your holes and rampage me all over again  the waters, the soil, and the air. Because even during this pandemic, I can see the way you are treating each other. If you cannot take care of yourself or be kind to one another, I don’t believe you will be kind to me.

So I am putting you on notice. I no longer consider you a child of mine, just a truant misbehaving snotty intolerable tenant, whose has strayed, and overstayed. This is my first eviction notice to all of you. Be good or leave. Corona is not my last child, or the final weapon against you. Don’t make me unleash them.
But make no mistake if you push me any further, I will.
Fare thee well and take care.
Planet Earth.