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General

Krishna was sitting sad, with his head down and his two hands, holding his cheeks. His wife, Meena, was very much moved by his gloomy appearance. She went on to comfort him.

“See, my dear, our forefathers have long ago advised us, not to hold the cheeks in two hands, even if you own and your sailing ships have been wrecked and shattered. So, therefore, hold your chin high and think positively. I don’t know what is bothering you. If you are suffering from physical pains, think of your mother. No pain is sharper than a mother’s labour pain before the delivery. If you are stressed out, then think of your father and how he pulled out the family of six, with you and your siblings, from poverty and starvation. Always, remember him and those difficult days he went through, when he was forcefully evacuated from Burma. He came empty handed, leaving behind, all the riches, his entire life savings. He, along with others, had to run for life, that too penniless. From Mandalay to Manipur, he came walking. All he saw throughout, was death and devastation. No pain can be larger than his. We are far-far better than them. Cheer up.”

Krishna was still in his pensive moods. Meena left him to his worries. She went inside and looked for his laptop and tuned on to Wikipedia under the head ‘Rags to Riches and other positive stories. She also opened one more window of those typical Indians who moved mountains to prove themselves. She kept the laptop near him. She went away inside to attend to her domestic chores.

The actual problem for Krishna was, he was not sure whether he was on right path. Last year when he was transferred to Delhi, he felt very happy. He thought, he was blessed and on top, a chosen one to be at the capital city. But his happiness did not last long. The heavy cost of living, long hours of commutation, heavy traffic jam, extreme weather conditions…. Nothing suited him. He simply wondered, how so many people, that too, lakhs and lakhs, carry on their life without a grumble. ‘Come summer, the heatwave is at its peak. Any number of glasses of ‘Machine ka Thanda paani’ the chilled water does not quench your thirsty throat. If it is rainy season, it is worst. All roads get clogged and flooded, already the traffic at snail pace, now not even budging an inch now! Anyone and everyone complaining of dengue and viral fever. The worst part is winter and its fog, no-no, the smog.’

It was this winter smog which haunted him and played a havoc on his health. His uncontrolled wheezing and sneezing, made others look at him with sympathy. He felt terribly embarrassed to be at office with such a nuisance. Remaining absent from office was not any solution for the menace. Even if it be so, for how long he could do so? Doctors, medicines, antibiotics, injections…. All gave him just a temporary relief.

One day when his cousin visited him at his place, and seeing him suffering, simply suggested,

“Hello, brother, you seem to have lost your immunity. That is why even the strong dose of medicines do not have any impact on you. My simple advice to you is, ‘Take long leave. Come and stay in our village. Fresh air, lush green fields. Refresh yourself. Regain your health. Gandhi had rightly said, when wealth is lost, nothing is lost. But, when health is lost, something is lost. Better be serious, before you become a chronic one.”

Krishna considered his words to be a sound advice. He applied for sabbatical and came to the village. The village was really picturesque, green and fresh. Within a week, he felt the difference and was bouncing back to normal. Nothing much to do, he took long walks, watched the chirping birds, ate simple food and slept for long hours. Soon he got bored. He being a voracious worker and on top a terrible workaholic, found this rustic and lazy living, a big burden. His wife, Meena, did not find any difference in her lifestyle. In city, town or a village, she continued to remain the same housewife, attending to her daily chores. She was on the contrary happy that her husband was now a healthy man. At times, a freak line of doubt would occur that he should not cancel the leave and go back to work at Delhi.  In order to divert him and keep him busy, she suggested as to why not take up some simple village activity, either for home or community, like kitchen gardening, cattle breeding, setting up a kiosk for fodder, fertilizer etc. He shrugged his shoulders, took it lightly and did not bother, mainly because they were not his ‘cup of tea.’ Next day, when set out for walking, she too joined him, just to know what might be of some interest to him, taking full care to note that he did not ‘smell the rat.’

During the stroll, he appreciated the sunrise, then the mild breeze and suddenly exclaimed,

“Hey, look at this beautiful lush green pond! I come here daily, to admire this greenery.”

Meena was surprised at what her hubby was trying to say. A pond full of watery weed, Hyacinth, a deadly invasive aquatic weed having an acute negative impact on land and water, and this man is foolishly appreciating it as lush greenery! Was he not aware of its deadliness?

“Are you sure this is what you admire? Do you know this is a bane, and not a boon? It is a deadly weed and its growth has to be arrested immediately. Or else, very soon, the pond will become a breeding centre of mosquitoes. The fish and other aquatic creatures will die as no sunlight or oxygen can penetrate into water. Oh! How I wish I have enough strength and manpower to get rid of this deadly menace! Please, please, do something Krishna, for rejuvenating and sustaining this small water body. In olden days, we used to have lotus and lily ponds. The boatmen would row and pluck the flowers and sell them. We offer them to Gods. Of late, such ponds are not found anywhere. Instead this terrible disastrous weed had dawned on us. Do you know one thing? During British Raj, Queen Victoria, gifted this to us as an icon of beauty. Then itself, knowledgeable persons warned that it was a deliberate measure by the Rulers to kill our well- developed eco system. Whether it a deliberate one or a beautiful one it was undoubtedly an evil one. The growth of hyacinth is like replacing milk and honey by arrack and alcohol.”

Krishna was stunned. He never knew that hyacinth was so deadly. He certainly did not know that the seemingly beautiful greenery was indeed poisonous. Was it really so? Was Meena correct in whatever she told? Was it a mere hearsay? He wanted to confirm. Meena said,

“You better refer to internet and confirm. If you are convinced, you have to do something to get rid of it. You take it as a deal! It is a tribute from you to Mother Nature for having regained your health. Don’t think of Delhi, till you accomplish this. Even if you have to extend your leave, don’t hesitate.”

Meena’s strong resolution and challenge did really work on him. He too vowed to do his mite in this regard. The same day, he took his laptop and met the village chief, Sarpanch. He explained in detail the evils of the aquatic weed engulfing the pond. He also showed videos explaining in detail, how to combat such problems. Meena was also there. She openly admitted that until and unless it was tackled, they were not going back. The Sarpanch soon formed a committee. Members were at first, apprised and then advised of suitable steps for coarse-correction. Villagers had seen and known ‘Rally for Rivers’, a campaign by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. But they thought it was a nation-wide tree planting and thereby saving Rivers. A measure on a massive scale. They did not link it to their village pond.

Meena was truly happy. Something had come on their way, to make a meaningful stay in the village. She went through videos depicting various methods of putting the hyacinth to useful products. It was surprising to note that many handicraft items were produced and that there were institutions to impart such skills. Knowing fully well that it was impossible to implement such unworkable ideas, she brushed them aside, as something for mere academic interest only. But she showed Krishna those videos wherein hyacinth was used as fodder for pigs and hens, then another one in which it was ground to fine paste and then used for producing biogas, and one more using it simply as manure and thereby increase fertility of the soil.

The Sarpanch was not excited about those videos. He was a practical man. He asked them, “Where is money coming from?” The very cleansing activity was an enormous job requiring lot of men and material. Setting up biogas chambers etc. was not a joke.

“First of all, who will take up the activity? Who will supervise? Which bank will give loan? On what terms? What about surety and guarantors? You both will go away, once your time is out. Then who next? I am an old man and cannot undertake heavy task. So, stop dreaming and be realistic.”

When Sarpanch spoke cut and right, Krishna was upset and did not how to react. He became gloomy and sat down with head down and his two hands on cheeks. Having no idea of how Sarpanch dismissed his hopes of tapping high potentials of hyacinth for common good, Meena, was coolly administering sermons on holding chin high. He wanted to ask her what if they dropped everything and allowed things to go on ‘as is where is’. Initially, she would resist, but she might come around, once she too learnt about the practical problems. She must know that ‘Being ambitious was one thing, being practical was another.’ She must know that ‘Vitamin M was a major stumbling block.’

Krishna was once again stumped. First thing Meena asked.

“Did you assess how much is needed for weeding out hyacinth and cleansing the pond? Who will be the users of the pond, once it is ready and brimming with water? How about forming a trust by the user-members and all such members contributing something? In any mission, initially there are setbacks. Don’t you know there is no gain without pain? Vitamin M should not stand in our way of fulfilling what we want to do.  Take all my jewelleries, you shell out all your savings. You show this to the villagers. I am very sure that this will ‘break the ice’. When we outsiders, having no stake in this mission, are ready for such a big leap, it is bound to have an upheaval. Others will soon follow. Do you know how Krishnarajasagar Dam in Karnataka was built? Yes, there was a testing time then also. Almost about to give up. But when people understood the frank and honest deeds, everyone in the village came forward and the miracle happened. Today it is the testimony of trust and good faith. History can repeat and you too can prove yourself. At least I am not giving up.” She smilingly tapped his cheeks and went away as a breeze.

Krishna felt very proud of her. She offers a pillar of strength. As already pointed out by her, when he was on his road to recovery, this village infused blood and breath in him. He gained his health back and obviously he owed something to this village and therefore binding on him to repay. Whatever be the obstacles, he had to prove himself.

Krishna was cleared of his doubts and was steadfast. He was on his way to see Sarpanch. Needless to say he carried with not only Vitamin M, but also, his firm belief.                                                     

November 22, 2019 19:33

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4 comments

Marjorie Kabwe
07:10 Nov 28, 2019

Hi I'm Marjorie. I would like to say you have a beautiful story of a couple who listen to and support each other. I think that is important to a successful relationship. I can see how you used the theme 'write a story about a character on a quest trying to "prove themselves". However, as I read your story, I felt that Krishna was too much in his thoughts and Meena had stolen his spotlight as the main character. I got a little jealous on behalf of Krishna. when the protagonist is proving themselves, their voice should be heard.

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11:19 Nov 29, 2019

Thank you, Marjorie.

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Marjorie Kabwe
22:01 Sep 25, 2020

You are welcome Shyamala

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11:46 Nov 25, 2019

1.Delhi's air pollution is mainly due to stubble-burning in Punjab and Haryana. Unlike Singapore, Delhi has not stopped sales of new cars. instead Oxygen bars have come up. Kids and pregnant women get affected badly. 2. Famous Brindavan Gardens in Mysore, by the side of Krishnarajasagar dam was abandoned half-way due to monetary constraints, which was then completed by peoples' free voluntary contribution and free labour.

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