Short Stories

The Environmentalist

“Stop! And think

For a moment you could spare

For Mother Nature to realize

The worth of the indispensable entity

Getting trodden under the

Feet of mankind everywhere.”

“What a wonderful poem!” Simran thought while joining others who gave a thunderous applause to Neha who recited the poem. As soon as the crowd started dispersing, Simran hurried towards Neha to congratulate her.

“It was fantastic. I never knew that even you are a ardent lover of nature. I…”

“Thanks! Bye.” Neha cut short Simran and went away.

Simran and Neha were in the same class. Neha had joined the school that year only. Next day in the school, Simran tried to talk to Neha between classes but couldn’t. After lunch, she found Neha with her friends under the big mango tree. Neha and her friends were trying to toss a bird’s nest on the tree that also contained eggs. But Simran was too far to make out what they were doing. She called out to Neha. The sight of Simran somewhat irritated Neha. Reluctantly she came to her. “Now, what do you want?” she asked irately.

“Neha, I am the representative of the environment club of our school. Tomorrow our members are going on a rally to a nearby village to spread awareness about various environmental problems and their harmful effects. I am sure you would be interested……..”

“Sorry. Not at all interested.” As usual she cut short Simran and started walking away.

“But…” Simran said sadly, “I thought you are a true lover of nature. Your poem reflected your passion towards reviving our polluted environment.”

“Oh, silly girl. It wasn’t my poem. I downloaded it from the net. True it was good and people praised me for the same. But that’s it. Other wise it none of my business, forget going to some dusty, barren village and teach those stupid, illiterate villagers about environment. Isn’t it the job of those self proclaimed NGO’s to bawl around about the environmental causes? Why don’t you go and ask those people instead of wasting my time?” Neha scornfully replied and went off to join her mates.

Simran was in disbelief. Is she the same girl who rendered such a beautiful poem yesterday? A breaking noise distracted Simran from her thoughts. She turned to find out the source and what she saw horrified her. Neha was smashing the eggs and crushing them beneath her feet even as the mother bird was hovering frantically over the tree, unable to see her precious eggs getting shattered into pieces. Simran was about to shout when the bell rang. Helplessly, she made her way towards her class.

At home, Simran did not have anything. The grim picture of that mother bird kept dancing in her mind. Unable to tolerate any more, she went for a walk. As she came round the corner, she found Akbar Chacha as usual planting young saplings on the roadside.

Akbar Chacha was a legend in Tulika Street where Simran lived. Be it summer or monsoon, nothing could ever deter him from his passion of planting plants. Not even his meals! Simran liked Chacha very much. She often used to spend her holidays with him, helping him in his noble endeavor.

“Hello Simran.” Chacha greeted. Simran did not reply and continued to walk. “Hey, listen.” surprised by Simran’s behavior, Chacha called back. This time, Simran obeyed and stopped. She retraced her path to the spot where Chacha was working and down on the footpath with a thud. “What happened? Has somebody scolded you?” Chacha asked anxiously.

Simran kept quiet. It seemed she was deeply engrossed in her thoughts. Chacha said, “When you feel good, then we will talk.” and continued with his work. Suddenly Simran’s eyes fell on what Chacha was doing and she burst out, “Why are you planting these trees? Has anybody even cared to look at them? Nobody is bothered. Some notorious boys even crush these young saplings and destroy them. Others neither scold them nor do they appreciate your dedication. Everybody on this earth is guided by self-interest. Then why you are wasting your time when you can spend your days in a more fruitful way?”

“That is because I am no different than other human beings. The only difference is that my self –interest lies in the best interest of Mother Nature. Tending these small, fragile fragments gives me a sense of satisfaction. Others seek to fulfill their innermost desires through materialism and I seek to fulfill my desires by smelling the Earth the moment the first drop of rain falls on it, by feeding the stray dogs with my own bare hands, by being a silent witness as a young shoot beautifully transforms into a sturdy tree.

Simran, Nature has sustained man through ages and will continue to do so in every possible way irrespective of how man is ruthlessly destroying it for its selfish gains through urbanization, industrialization etc. just like a mother who prays for her child’s well being till the last day of her life even after her son has left her at an old age home. However, nothing is unlimited in this world. And it is really sad to see that man has become totally oblivion to the fact that even Nature is bounded by her own precincts. The clock is slowly ticking away but few seem to have grasped that unpleasant tune. Actually, it started the day man started taking things for granted and before its too late, man needs to realize his folly and make amendments.”

“But Chacha, for this, everybody’s contribution is necessary. I mean, until and unless people do not work together as a team towards this major cause, how will it be possible to make a change? Take your example: The more you plant trees, the more those boys destroy them. Then, what is the use of serving Mother Nature when the service itself is not acknowledged?” Simran impatiently asked.

Chacha smiled. “I will tell you a story. Two doctors were walking along a riverbank when they saw a man drowning. One of them jumped into the water, pulled him out, and administered first aid. By the time the doctor had finished treating him, there came another drowning person, followed by yet another. The doctor decided to set up a clinic there!

The second doctor decided to go upstream to find out what was pushing people into the river. He was an environmentalist. Rather than going in for symptomatic treatment, he wanted to tackle the problem at its source.

This is what is needed today. The problem doesn’t lie with the action but with the attitude towards environment. For this, the preset mindsets of people have to be changed. Many think that an individual person cannot do anything by himself and thus sit back and relax at their homes, mentally handing over the responsibility to the government. Do you know that an infinitesimally small single atom has the potential to generate enough nuclear energy to light a whole town? An ant single handedly carries a sugar cube, which is almost 40 times its own weight. Likewise, if each and every person on this planet put the interest of Mother Nature before his self interest and utilizes his capability to do something constructive towards protecting and preserving our environment without thinking about the consequences, our Earth can surely be made a better place to live.”

“Where have you been all this time? Come, have dinner.” Simran’s mother said as she entered her house. But instead of going to the dining table, she headed towards her room.

She sat down on her table and stated writing her speech for tomorrow’s rally. ‘I am a daughter of Mother Nature.’ Simran thought as she kept on writing. ‘It’s my duty to defend her from every possible harm. And I shall rise to the occasion and perform my duty to the best of my ability without any hesitation. It’s not my concern to see whether people like Neha care for her or not. However, being a responsible human being I shall make sure that she is well protected from such people. A strong building is raised on a strong cornerstone and a revolution is born out of a strong and determined individual.’

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