This piece was written a few weeks ago, for the Transit 09 fest souvenir in college. The theme was change. And the above title did not go into the souvenir... So here it is:
The audience was ready. The audience being retired gentlemen, from the households of Vijayanagar. The meeting place was the lone tree shelter near Manuvana. Mr.Shetty had special rituals conducted at the nearby Maruthi mandir, for the safety of this shelter from the marauding Metro construction nearby. It seemed that his prayers hadn’t been in vain. Atleast for now…
Mr.Murlidhar sensed the discontentment in the gathering. He assumed that the recent political turmoil in the state was causing it. Clearing his throat, he said,"Fellow members, I feel that we should all be more proactive with the issues that concern the state. What do you all say?".
This was met with a round of guffaws from the members, with some of them incoherently mumbling, “What a joke!!” “Why do you say so Murli?” asked Mr.Shetty. “Well, its definitely better than grumbling about the situation and seeking a change…”
“But how does it matter? Does it stop governments from ending their power struggles? Does that alleviate the condition for the flood affected? Does that end the mindless destruction of greenery in the name Metro? We are helpless after the application of the indelible ink.” Thundered Muniyappa, fondly called Vajramuni.
“I agree with Vajru on this one, we should have a communist rule like China, what discipline… what progress…Otherwise it’s a hopeless situation” said Mr.Shyam, which was emphasized by a round of tapping the walking sticks.
“If that is how you all feel, let me give you a situation, Imagine your loved one who is suffering from a forbidden disease and the doctors at Hospital X, have given up hope. Would you give up hope? Wont you take a second opinion, perhaps rush him/her to another hospital? In other words, wouldn’t you do all that’s possible from your end, to see your loved one happy and healthy again? Then, why this apathy when it comes to the society?...” countered Murali.
“But Uncle, How do individuals, without the backing of powerful contacts and means to money, be able to make a significant contribution to the society?” asked Ravi the lone youngster in the group.
"This is where the misconception lies. It’s the intention the matters, not the quantum of money or the publicity it generates. Let me tackle Vajru’s points.
Why should the struggle of power affect you in helping the flood affected? Haven’t you heard of companies offering to build shelters for them? Haven’t you heard of noble individuals cooking rotis and making sure it supplied to the helpless? Assist these efforts to extend their reach. Otherwise cajole others to contribute to a fund started by you and make it your responsibility to visit the affected places and make sure that the money is well spent. This would surely enthuse many contributors to donate to your fund… How does red tape or bureaucracy stop you from doing this? "
“Interesting”, mumbled Mr.Shastry, while making a silent prayer, when the street lights came on.
“Coming to the Metro, appeal to the local authorities if you feel that nature is being irrevocably damaged. If that falls on deaf ears, start a peaceful protest to achieve you end. If no light is visible at the end of the tunnel, initiate efforts to recover the green cover lost in this mayhem. Start greenery drives, by encouraging the youngsters to plant trees. Wouldn’t that be helpful to the city and its people?”
“We can’t stop the preaching once it begins” whispered Mr.Ram to Vajru, much to his indignation.
“Alright uncle, you did mention some measures which can adopted by all of us. But how do we sensitize the citizens of Bangalore, to these issues and others? Hygiene and civic sense for example…”asked Ravi.
“Well Ravi, charity begins at home. First try to sensitize the ones whom you are close to. Adapt your methods based on how effective you are. If the speech, like the boring one that I am giving you now, doesn’t work, use innovations like a street play or media like theater or movies to put your point across.
Most importantly practice what you preach. People easily identify to the cause if they can identify it with a role model. That’s why we are social animals. Some of us are self willing, others need the catalyst.”
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” concluded Mr.Murli
“Wonder who said that? It’s at the tip of my tongue.” butted in Shastry. “It was bapuji himself. Shastry, you and your memory.” quipped Vajru, much to the amusement to everyone.
“Alright everyone, can the pleasantries be exchanged over a cup of coffee?” suggested Mr.Shyam. The very idea of coffee found a whole hearted agreement amongst them. The collective sound of the jostling walking sticks, faded amidst the evening noises.