Friday, August 15, 2014

Mother (Nature’s) Wake Up Call

Featured in Blogadda's WOW for Independence day!

Written as part of WOW!

“Punit beta, you have lost so much weight.  Are you not taking care of yourself well?  Is Nirmala cooking everyday for you?”

“Yes maa.  She is fine.  It’s just that I have been having hectic work hours and I sometime tend to skip meals.  You know I am eying for that promotion for a while now.  Its just the nature of being in a finance department in a huge corporation maa”

“I see.  Take care beta.  By the way, what are these men doing downstairs?  And what is that unpleasant smell?”

“Our apartment has been having issues with our sewer disposal for more than 7 hours.  We have complained to our secretary.  He is calling the workers to fix it now.  They are probably opening our drainage – and hence the smell.”

His Maa continued -

“Beta, you know, when you were young, your father had struggled to feed you and your 2 elder sisters on daily basis.  He did a daily labor in a nearby village to bring back some food and money he earned for that day.  Having to own a toilet was a luxury that day, son.  You were too young to remember those days, but I know how difficult it was for your sisters to go to school and share a common toilet with the boys.  Do you know how many days they have come home crying of embarrassment and shame?  Sometimes they will resist their nature call all through the day just to avoid awkwardness, or had to walk 100 more yards from their school to find a nearby private open space.  They were in their teens, so you can imagine how they would have felt.” 

“By god’s grace, we moved to Bhuhaneshwar once he got a construction job in that city.  We were able to send you all to a corporation school which provided free lunch, and more importantly had separate toilets for girls and boys.   Fortunately things changed for the good for our family and all three of my children are in a good position – socially and economically.  I still keep thanking god for taking our family this far in life.”

“But son, you know the rest of our villager’s were not fortunate enough as we were.  I walked through our area – 25 years after we had left and nothing much changed there.  It pains me immensely to know how Toilets are still a luxury for our people.  I see feces still all over in the open and mothers feeding kids just 100 yards away from that ground.  You have to do something about it son.  I think god has been kind to our family just because he had hopes that we will reciprocate that kindness to our people.  You know I have always been proud of you lad.   Trust me, your actions towards this will give you immense pleasure.  Will you do this for me son?  Will you do this for me?”

“Punit, wake up…wakeup.  It’s Aug 15th.  We have to get ready for our flag hosting at our apartment building.”  His wife Nirmala waked Punit up.   

Nirmala was worried seeing Punit sweat profusely.  “What happened dear?  You are sweating like a pig.  Is everything ok?  I hope you did not catch a fever because of our drainage problem in our apartment.  Should I call a doctor?”

Punit had part clarity / part confusion.  Confusion thinking about weather did he just wake up from a dream  - and  - clarity about the message that he got from his mother. 

Punit lost his mother 9 years back battling cancer.  She still lives with him in spirit, but never had such a personal and specific dream with her, ever before.

Semi-confused and shaken, he took his morning shower and came out right in time for the live telecast for Flag hosting at Red fort.  He munched on this Aloo parataes while listening to the Prime Minister giving his speech. 

He was shocked to hear what the PM had to say.  It was quite eerie that the Prime Minister would speak about building separate toilets for girls across India.  He also talked about why cleanliness is vital for our nation, and his vision to build separate toilets for girls in every school in India by 2015. 

The Prime Minister also urged the corporations to spend their funds allocated for corporate social responsibility - on building toilets in schools.    

Then it struck him.  He now knew what he had to do.

Puneet just got promoted last month as head of Finance for multi-national IT organization.  One of his additional responsibilities includes managing the fund allocation for their company’s outreach and social responsibility programs.  

He then realized that it was Mother India herself in the form of his Maa in his dream.  He also understood there should be no difference in treating both mothers with the same level of love and respect!

Jai Hind!  

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