We can holler slogans… We can march protests... Doesn’t matter how much oil is burnt everyday to prepare the multi-cuisine dishes for the delegates at Copenhagen… But when it actually comes down to caring for the environment, we shrug our shoulders.. No matter how much Aamir Khan distorts his facial features in his posters to look like a teenager, his real age is known to everybody.. No matter how much we create (or pretend to create) an awareness about protecting our climate, we all turn cold when we deal with it in our own lives.. I may sound like a stereotypical protest-ie but I just felt the urge to share a very burning incident that happened a few days ago..
Evening had arrived.. I was walking back to my home when I saw a heavy dark smoke coming from a distance.. It got diffused in the surrounding air and made it unpleasant for everybody.. The lady who was walking beside me had put a hankie on her face to cover up just like I did, and the kids of the nearby dhobi were coughing like anything.. It was indeed very disturbing.. Had it been any other day, I would have continued to my home pressing the hankie a bit tighter, but the hype created by the on-going climate-change summit pumped concern in my veins.. I set out for the source of that smoke.. A smoke not on the water!!..
I didn’t have to travel much.. The guards of the next tower were standing around a bonfire kind of a thing and rejoicing the wintry evening.. They were burning the dry leaves accompanied with plastic packets (, and many more things).. The smoke from the plastic was what was causing so much irritation.. As I approached them, I saw a familiar face.. He was from my family’s friend circle who resides in the same tower and was enjoying the fire which supplied HEAT to him.. Just as he saw me coming towards him,
Well.. Let me supply the extracts of the conversation.. though it was in Hindi, but I think I can translate this much…
Uncle X : Hey, come join us.. get some heat.. ha
Me: Thanks uncle, but I came here to put this off.. ( I did not smile.., he was expecting me to smile because he thought I was joking)
Uncle X : (after a pause of expectation) ha ha ha.. why do you want to put this thing off??. You and I live in heated apartments but look at these poor guys, they need this to stay warm.. ha ha.. (The joke he was intending to crack begged for a sense, and I didn’t smile back)..
Me: They have got their own rooms with heaters.. they can stay inside that.. Have you asked them to burn these??.. or are they burning these themselves..??.
Uncle X : Yes.. I had only asked them to burn these.. You see the leaves were thrown here… The place was looking dirty.. so I asked them to burn the leaves.. but why are you asking??.
Me: Uncle, the smoke is bothering everybody..
Uncle X : Bothering whom??.. I am not seeing anyone getting bothered except you…
Me: The residents of our apartment were complaining about this to the guard.. That is where I am coming from.. (Yes, I lied)..
Uncle X : Let them come to me and speak..
( I was pitying the guy.. He was an educated man, but his behavior proved otherwise.. He had lost all the respect that I had for him.. How can he be so very adamant about such a small thing.. The guards seemed to be enjoying the drama without wearing any expression on their faces)…
Me: Can’t you see.. the smoke is spreading everywhere.. Call your home and check whether they can smell it or not.. Please uncle.. ask them to put this off..
Uncle X: It will go off by itself in a few minutes kid.. Go to your apartment.. This is our apartment and our garbage.. We can do anything with it..
That did it.. I was in no way going to waste my breath on this literate illiterate person.. I gave up.. and while coming back, saw the kids of the building.. playing badminton.. I knew some of them and asked them to pour water to the fire.. I knew that they won’t do that, but still I had to vent my anger… I was feeling very sorry for myself because I was not able to persuade him… sorry for the residents who had no options but to breathe in that poison air.. Sorry for the kids who had to cough it out.. And sorry for the Earth, which had to house it’s own destroyer..
Well.. I am not suggesting any measures to protect our environment, because we have been taught about this for quiet some time now.. We have wasted enough ink answering the easy questions, “How can we conserve the Environment?” and listed many things which we never follow… But I just met an educated Indian, who by no means had any sort of concern for the Earth and had no problems holding it by it’s neck and banging it’s head against the wall.. If he can’t conserve the place, he has no right to destroy it…
This sorry observation made me recollect a picture I had seen in an art exhibition.. The picture was all black.. No colors.. No lines.. It was like darkness, poured into the blank canvas.. it was too difficult for a 6th class student to comprehend the sense behind that frame.. But now I can very well realize where it intended to point.. The picture wore a title.. “Delhi, 2050”..