Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Polythene Leaf

Pictures speak a great deal of things that exist and things that may not tomorrow, things that may fade to remain just as pictures. They may tell tales, sorrowful and joyous; of struggles and wars, for winter food and shelter; of every leaf that dries up in a sacrifice to fall exactly when and where it should to make this world serenely picture-perfect. They speak of each tree that hides a mark of violence upon it (for our matches, paper and trinkets) and still, smiles down with its shade. They whisper of the crickets that chirp goodnight to every child in the world without fail, night after night and the breeze which exposes new jewels of sand and stone for man to see and covet. They usher into our imagination the winds of the night that lull the world into a warm, dreamy sleep; the fireflies lighting her path as she helps each new sprout grow in the moonlight and the tender leaves that burn a bright red at her touch; vines that snake their arms onto the snoring trees, lovingly stroking each wise bough and tall grasses nodding in agreement with the sway of the world, or the frogs gawking at their toes.
No wonder each morning we wake up to a foggy sky, each leaf nestling a sparkling dew. A mother’s tears at the beauty of her own child: every blade of grass that’s new.
I find that many such splendid sights pass me by everyday. The serene lichen-patched trees humming in content in a breeze that struggles to maintain its flow through the dense thickets and undergrowth of concrete. A rustle or two here and there announced a bird, a cricket or a laboring insect. At the height of a few hundred meters, a breathtaking view fills my senses with a joy that drains my tiredness away like a magical elixir. It's easy to believe when surrounded by a few trees that there's only a silent, watchful forest and nothing beyond but for the harsh reminders left around by fellowmen. A blue patch here, a white one there and sometimes a used bottle of energy drink- telltale signs of human invasion.
Inevitable, though our venture into the lands around is, the urge to see all, know all and conquer all has always been the rise and the fall of man. It is true that there might not have been cross continental culture today had there not been the spirit of exploration and conquest in men. But to win over a land, and to invade it are two different things. Our ancestors were reverent of nature and treated her as as a mother- a giving hand and a soul that lives around us and through us. Today, Lucifer has subjugated all hearts, and in the darkness whispers for nature’s soul. Hammering axes, screaming saws, toxic factories spewing plastic every second are not the end of it. The pollution meter is running out of control with the charts and readings going berserk in overpopulated cities-and yet, that is at least expected. But who would expect to find, in the middle of a beautiful jungle -that makes you feel like you are living the best fairy tale ever written- a phantom handbag- a polythene leaf- floating like a ghost of a littering past, a horrifying present and a possibly worse future??
The irony of it all is that such incidents are more evident even in the hearts of the biggest cities where they are ignored fiercely. But turning a blind eye becomes nigh impossible when the all green surrounding you is suddenly violated by the harsh contrast of a dirty polythene cover or a plastic cup: an alien in a divine land of waving leaves and twinkling sunlight, of loving caresses from knee high stalks of ribbon-like grass, bespectacled with yellow, pink and purple flowers.
Any writer could romanticize the beauty of nature as I have. But no bard, even, could erase the memory of the harsh realities peering in at the window of our futures. The only solution to the conundrum is to let the animals back into the jungles. It goes a long way in preserving what is and paving the way for more beautiful and glorious tomorrows. I feel the ‘Use Me's' around every corner and the 'Stop Littering!' signs have long been neglected and the slopes I walk up send a note of alarm, as high as they can, and as far wide. The blue of the cliff-side stones seems like frozen tears on the face of the earth.
Heed them; stop littering!

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