Once Upon a Time there was a little village that perched on the edge of a high cliff. The village had a church and and a headman and tribes of little girls running around like goddesses.
It was a beautiful moment in time. Small children ran laughing down paths lined with roses, hyacinths nodding at them, old ladies clucking at them at they checked the evenings rice with squinty eyes. Chickens squabbled in the greenery and small boys ran naked and shameless to their evening roust in the river.
All around was the song of the forest, the dance of the butterfly and at night the soothing sound of rain on tin.
Sometimes there was lightening and thunder to rattle the windows and turn their eyes round in the night, but mornings were as soft as a sigh and the world was greenly right again.
Then one day an outsider arrived, like a tax inspector. “This must be the cleanest village in all of Asia!” declared the outsider.
And with these magic words, the village became less than it ever thought that it could be. Cars arrived carrying more inspectors the cars tooted and belched black smoke. The inspectors marched around the village looking for evidence of what it was not. The poked cameras into windows and in the faces of the children, old ladies squinted at them and grinned with red black teeth. The old ladies knew that the village was something more than what the outsiders called it. It was in fact just Home. Home, where the fire warmed the food that warmed your belly, where everyone knew everyone and everything is shared. Where the sun goes down every day and leaves the chickens squabbling, the old ladies squinting and the children running barefoot while butterflies sang them to sleep.
The inspectors felt they had gotten their moneys worth, it was a nice drive, one could see Bangladesh from the skywalk. No one marveled at the local engineering, no one thought to make their own village as beautiful and blessed.
Some people left a trail of litter in their wake.
Some went away satisfied, others not. Some went away and never spoke of the village again. Some never left.