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GUWAHATI BYTES: Toilet, Ek Katha!

GUWAHATI BYTES: Toilet, Ek Katha!

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  27 Feb 2019 11:46 AM GMT

Rituparna Goswami Pande

I have switched my walking hours from morning to the evening these days. It comes with a lot of perks, firstly I get company in the form of my seven year old and his nonstop natter, secondly its nearly dusk and I don’t need to look presentable as no one is able to scrutinise my dark circles or the perennially unkempt locks and thirdly I am not that of a chatty person in the early morning hours without my refreshing cup of piping tea.

It takes time for me to walk past my dazed state to stop and nod or exchange pleasantries with the other spirited lot on the road to fitness. Yeah and another thing, sonny is always there as a fashion police to adjust mommy’s wardrobe faux pas in the form of pulling my knee length jogging suit till my ankles or tugging at my sleeves to cover my bare arms! “Stop trying to be my mother!, I chide him as he expresses his displeasure at my rebellion. “Huh, spoiled moms”, he must be thinking, is what I think he thinks of me!!

Anyways, so the evening walks work fine for me as sonny trots along shooting question missiles by the dozen my way. As I duck, face and satiate his thirst for information I ask him to stop breathing momentarily whenever we approach a patch of open garbage. After a refreshing view of the sparkling waters of the river lit up by the cruise ships passing by which also cast a mysterious yet alluring reflection of dazzling lights, we are in for a rude shock as our nostrils are assaulted by the rotting garbage, spilling out of the iron containers. The area around the bins are also utilised as a garbage area as cut branches, discarded furniture, stinking rubbish jostle for space. I wonder how the residents of the apartments breathe that stink as every pedestrian; every passerby has to pinch his nose in order to cross that area. I ask my son to hold his breath a while as we swiftly skirt the area.

Mom, why do people throw garbage so carelessly? I have no answer to his query as I am at my wits end too as to why we lack in these basic civic sense. A little further ahead there is an open space in the all important MG Road and that too very near the DC Bungalow and the Governor’s House which is ornately decorated by stinking rubbish. Right under the CM’s nose, I must say. The VIP entourages are passing by every now and then shouting at the top of their voice or even on a microphone to motorists or drivers to make way for the Cavalcade to pass. Yet they seem to be suffering a severe case of cold

as they fail to be affected by the stench or even notice the eye sore ruining the beatific view.

As we pass the dumping ground sonny notices a person walking towards it. “Mom, wait let’s see where that man is heading to, what if he falls into the river?” I know better and move ahead on and carry on with my walk. Meanwhile, Sonny insists on checking out and tugs at my jacket. “You don’t need to worry about his safety you better worry about our environment that he is spoiling by relieving himself in the thickets!”

“Why is he doing his business there?” Sonny wants to know, to which I state that for him and for many others the whole world is a toilet and whenever and wherever ones wants to heed Nature’s call he just turns the neighbourhood into an open toilet. Even the pavement has stains almost everywhere of animal waste and bird droppings. “Why do animals spoil the footpaths and streets like this Mom?” To which I respond that as with the two legged social animals the four legged and winged one consider the whole earth to be a toilet too!

And it was not any better when a few days later on a train journey we passed through some scenes of open defecation near the railway tracks. Whole world is a toilet, isn’t it mom! I could just nod and look away. It is appalling to even think that in many villages in our states people do not have toilets in their homes. People choose fields, bushes, forests, ditches for defecation as they either do not have a toilet at home or due to traditional practices as many people view toilets as impure and refrain from installing

them within their household premises. According to a survey in India 732 million people in India do not have access to proper toilets and going to the toilet is a nightmare. However, the Swachch Bharat Abhiyan has set a target of building 110 million toilets nationwide.

For most of us using the toilet is a natural thing but imagine the plight of the people who struggle daily to answer nature’s call. Sad indeed, while we take so many things for granted in life we fail to fathom the hardship many people face daily for a simple practice of going to the toilet. But it is no excuse for anyone to ruin public places in so called smart cities like ours. For in India one can sense a public toilet from miles away due to the stench they emanate. If you visit the loos in trains bus stops and even airports you would know what I mean. Users are too selfish to think about the users who visit the loo after them. Throwing trash on streets, clogging drains with refuse, spoiling neighbourhoods by

turning dark alleys into toilets speaks volumes about a civilized and progressive society. Hope the day soon arrives when we learn and realise that our habits are our reflection and we need to clean up, pick up after ourselves....

Feedback: ritug_pan@rediffmail.com

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