In the memories of my youth, my park is a treasured place. The trees are old and tall, their branches blotted with bursts of electric green. The wooden benches are worn and scratched with the initials of love-struck teenagers. In autumn, the crackling, sun-burnt leaves are so plentiful that the grass disappears.
My park is a safe place, one where I leave my mother behind, as I dash up the dirt path in search of adventure. Confidence builds in the sandbox and laughter hides behind the trees. In my park, the swings are the center of the universe. The street kids I photographed in Old Delhi call the place where they live “the park.” Not a strand of grass has the misfortune of growing there.
The ground reeks of urine and burning rubbish. Sniffing glue is the center of this world. Shoeless children play happily in the scorched dirt, flicking marbles for money so they can eat, their tummies grumbling with hunger. This park bears no resemblance to that of my youth. Somewhere in the cloud of that disparity I quiver in fear—fear that change will never come to these children.