The Western Ghats provide a lifeline to the people who live on both sides of it. Thanks to its lush evergreen forests and the winds of the southwest monsoon it gives rise to a plethora of perennial rivers capable of meeting the needs of all lifeforms. But, as they say, human needs are inexhaustible. As the population grew, dams were built along with rivers' courses. Salaulim (साळावली) Dam is one such dam located in the tiny state of Goa.
It was a typical monsoon evening at Salaulim Dam in the last week of July. As it is set against the backdrop of the Western Ghats, which receive some of the highest annual rainfall in the world, the dam nearly fills up by the middle of the monsoon season. Since it is a duckbill-spillway dam, tourists had flocked to the dam site to witness the full force of the waters. The phenomenon is such a visual treat that it attracts a sizable tourist crowd during the peak monsoon!
Mogubai (मोगुबाय) was looking around at all the tourists who had come to enjoy their day. Once every 15 minutes, she used to watch the visitors and their astonished, thrilled faces after watching the phenomenon while uprooting weeds in the garden, which is part of the dam project. Mogubai's life, on the other hand, was devoid of joy. She was a resident of the Curdi (कुर्डी ) village, which was completely submerged as a result of the dam project. When she would see the children playing fearlessly in the garden, she would get transported to her memory world, where she used to play in the open fields of Curdi. She'd fondly recall the endless memories she'd made in that village, which was now immersed underwater.
She had married Deepak, a seafarer who lived in the same village as her. But the good times didn’t last long. Deepak became infected with Cholera in the ship where he was working and died as a result, shortly after the six months of their marriage. Mogubai couldn't even meet with his dead body because it had been disposed of in the sea itself, citing protocol. By the time she was able to recover from this tragedy, she was given a document by an authority requiring her to vacate the house as it was coming under the national project of SALAULIM DAM.
The entire Curdi village initially resisted. 'How can the authority come one day and tell us to leave our houses and lands that have served us for centuries!' was the enraged sentiment. However, the concerned authorities were successful in explaining the benefits of the project to the villagers. They were told that their sacrifice would benefit thousands of South Goans and enrich their lives. They were given assurances of rehabilitation as well as a sum of money as compensation. All were eventually forced to leave their village, of which they were a vital part. Rehabilitation was carried out in nearby villages, but it did not match the lustre of their previous residences. Compensations hadn't arrived, even after the two decades post-displacement.
Tears streamed down Mogu's cheeks. She wondered why only they had to 'sacrifice' for the country. Why were they only separated from their homelands for the 'betterment' of their state!
She again came back to the present. Wiping her tears away, she stood up and climbed the ramp as the dam was about to close. She was walking along the dam's main corridor when she noticed the overflowed reservoir and for a brief moment, she considered diving into it and completing the sad chapter of her life..
But then she observed a rainbow that had formed over the spillway, which took her attention away. Rainbow brings vibrant colors that fill the space in a specific pattern! Suddenly, that amazing creation of nature gave her hope out of nowhere that, yes, life isn't over yet, and she can fill her life with the vibrant colors of joy, satisfaction, and happiness. It was true that things did not go as planned for her. But she would rise to the occasion, relishing and appreciating each and every moment that life would bestow upon her!
As the sun began to set, the rainbow began to fade. But that Rainbow had done its job—it had given Mogu, Mogubai, life!