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Contemporary Fiction Inspirational

Meena was happy that her husband Krishna 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.

Last year when he was transferred to Delhi, he felt very happy. He thought, he was blessed one and on top, a chosen one to be at the capital city. But his happiness did not last long. The high 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 any grumbling. ‘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, not even budging an inch now! Anyone and everyone are complaining of dengue and viral fever. The worst part is winter and its fog, (no-no it is called the smog) and the air pollution.’

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.

Upon his cousin’s advice, he took sabbatical leave and came to the village. The change of place had worked on him and brought back his health. Now that he was completely alright and his sabbatical also almost over, he must return to Delhi. He asked Meena to look for an auspicious day.

“See Meena. I am now much better. This village had helped me to regain my health. The greenery and fresh air prevailing in this village did their job. Let us go back to Delhi and lead our city life.”

Meena laughed. “Touch your heart and say that. Was it the greenery? Was it the fresh air? Do you think only these factors helped you to regain your health? I can confirm that none of them helped you. It was all your personal interest and efforts put in by you in getting the village pond cleaned up to restore its glory. Just like you got your normal health restored. Look at the pond now. No water hyacinth, no weeds. Water brimming with tender ripples. It’s your selfless unhindered efforts and non-stop motivation in grooming the villagers to understand the importance of waterbodies and regular recharging of ground water --- all such selfless activities for common cause brought back your health. The satisfaction you derived in having contributed your mite for a noble cause only helped you to pick up your vigour. New blood flows through your veins because of the soul-stirring service you rendered.”

“Meena, I think you want me to praise you. That’s why you are diverting my topic and drawing my attention to the village community service. Yes. I did something here in this village. At your behest only, I could do that. But it is also true that I am hale and hearty now. We must go back. I must join duty.”

She cautioned him. “Yes. We must go back. Better beware. It is the same Delhi. Extreme weather conditions, heavy pollution, traffic congestions, noisy dusty roads, dengue and viral fever, --- nothing would have changed. What about your wheezing and sneezing, can you cope up?”

“Yes Meena. Yes. I must and I will. Earlier, it was a sudden exposure to such extreme conditions. I could not cope up with. But now I am equipped with renewed vigour and am aware of impending issues. I will take care of all precautions. I am regular and will be regular in my breathing exercises. As you said it, I shall also indulge in some social activities.”

Both Meena and Krishna met the village Sarpanch and thanked him heavily for making their life very comfortable in this village. The village Sarpanch took the opportunity to thank the couple for being very congenial and helping. In fact, the whole village was very proud of this couple and indebted to them for turning the village a water positive village.

Krishna on his return to Delhi, noticed that the city had doubled itself with an added dose of concrete structures, influx of floating population, daily downpour of migrant labourers, speeding vehicles spewing carbon monoxide etc. etc. For a second, he thought he might not be able to withstand the harsh onslaught of disagreeable factors. But immediately assured himself that he was not that old sulky guy to stoop down and take the blow.

During his stay in the village, he had learnt yoga and breathing exercises. He was an ardent practitioner there. He must continue and stick to all those strict regimes here in the city also. There it was a pastime and a health recoup measure. Here it would be a basic necessity to continue those very measures as a tool for sustaining good health. No lethargy, no excuses.

He told Meena about this new formula. She appreciated him. But also told him that this was not enough. He must look around.

“We cannot change our city. It is going to be like this only. In fact, in coming years it will get worse. First look at our colony. How dirty it is! Filthy and stinking. People are least bothered about civic habits. This has to be changed. Let us make a beginning. Let us talk about shunning large scale use of plastics. Actually, there is a ban on plastics and people don’t care for it. I will form a ladies-club and insist on the members to keep a watch on cleanliness around our colony. You do similar thing among men. I know men will look for thousand excuses to shirk off such utility-oriented activities. Don’t bother about who joins and who does not. But keep on trying. Slowly they will realise. We need to take the lead. After all it is our concern for our good health. Let us start from tomorrow.”

Krishna was neither excited nor was he convinced. But he did not argue with her. Let her do what she wanted.

Early morning, he noticed that there was some unusual clamour and commotion in the neighbour’s house. He enquired. The neighbour’s father, an aged man in his seventies suddenly fell sick. He suffered from breathlessness. He was rushed to hospital. Meena thought of the old man’s wife. How vulnerable she would be in such crucial times. She voluntarily went to her and tried to comfort her. She learnt from them that she too was a patient of breathlessness, but not as acute as her husband was. Meena’s presence and her timely help in assisting them to cope up with the sudden chaotic situation made a wide difference and rose her image sky high. She became popular in her neighbourhood. As long as the old man was in the hospital, both Meena and Krishna visited his family and rendered required help and assistance. Soon the old man was discharged and brought home. If he were to practice breathing exercise regularly, he would not have had the problem at all. At least not this severe as to be hospitalised. seen this day.

Meena told Krishna that practising both yoga and breathing exercise were crucial and they must start a session for teaching the residents. Sooner the better. When Krishna did not show much enthusiasm, she took it upon herself. She first placed a big Display on the Notice Board indicating time and venue. On the appointed day, she was there. Krishna too joined her. But the only person who attended was the wife of the old man. Meena did not give up. A week or so it went on like that. Later the old lady’s friend joined and then the old man who a patient – he too came. Meena continued. Her continued perseverance slowly gathered momentum. Both men and women started attending. She asked them to spread word of mouth to their friends and residents in neighbouring buildings.

Now was her real challenge. She used the platform. She insisted on the necessity of keeping their colony clean and it should be devoid of unhealthy elements. Keeping the surroundings clean was more essential as it was the root cause of spreading of sickness and poisonous gases. She led the members to Municipal office. Their repeated morchaas, dharnaas and rallies to municipal authorities finally yielded results. Their vehicle was now coming regularly and clearing the debris. Seeing their success, the neighbouring colonies also approached this group for getting the Municipality to visit them. Meena insisted that they should not stop with mere getting the debris cleared. It should be coupled with their daily routine of yoga and breathing exercise. Welfare measures along with good civic habits and community-based monitoring would surely enhance their city living.

Meena was now very happy that her life carried some meaning. She recalled how helpless she was when her husband suffered in the beginning. Years ago, when they came on transfer to Delhi, Krishna suffered a lot. Her reminiscences of visit to village and a year-long stay there to recoup and restore health were quite nostalgic now. Apart from yoga and breathing exercise the impact of community welfare measures was tremendous. What started as a necessity for her family then, had now evolved as a mission for her colony and slowly encompassing her neighbourhood colonies also.

She concluded “City life is not all so bad. Only our concern and attitude towards it must be changed. Let Delhi continue to remain what it used to be. We may not be to change the whole city. But we can change our vicinity and our neighbourhood. I am very happy and satisfied with my ‘Vasant Vihar Colony’. Thank you, Krishna.

“Yes dear. I agree with you.”

Has he ever contradicted? Now also he did not.    

March 19, 2021 17:36

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1 comment

Adam Schwartz
21:14 Mar 24, 2021

Hi Shyamala. Nice story with a positive message. I like the drive to help both the neighbors and the environment, and the can-do attitude. However, the story felt very linear. Where's the dramatic tension? You might benefit from there being more obstacles, both to their return to Delhi and to the city dwellers joining in. It would make me root for your protagonists more.


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