I don’t normally do speculative fiction, but when In These Times told me they were doing a special climate issue and asked me what our world might be like if we were to achieve a net zero carbon economy, I found myself writing a letter to my cousin-brother.
Hello, my sweet, faraway cousin-brother! As we approach our—gasp!—80th birthdays, I felt inspired to resurrect the old tradition of letter writing.
It seems like yesterday we were sitting on your parents’ rooftop, taking in the night sounds of Besant Nagar, in the days when I would impulsively buy a ticket from Boston to Chennai without much of a thought beyond my bank account balance.
Remember when a ticket cost a few weeks’ pay instead of six months’? Has it really been 20 years since I last flew to India? I have forgotten the smell of the jasmine flowers women sold along the streets. Remind me again of their fragrance…
Do you see more stars now that the coal plants have shut down? Are the streets quieter without the roar of motorbikes? I suspect the electric vehicles still honk just as frequently and drive as wildly.
Perhaps everything is a little calmer, without the overwhelming crowds? But I imagine there’s an eeriness to that calm, knowing the cost at which it came.