The days are getting hot and I prefer to go for my walk when the morning is still cool. Accordingly, one day last week, I left at five in the morning and half an hour later I was walking back. A couple, early risers like me, crossed me and I noticed a bulging plastic bag in the hands of the husband. I knew what it was. The previous day’s garbage, being carried in a carry bag, to be thrown by the side of the road into the bushes. Usually I curse such people silently and walk away. That day I decided to give them a piece of my mind. I changed course and followed them. They turned into the bypass road and as soon as the vegetation turned a bit thick, the husband, in one smooth great swing, threw the bag into the bushes. I stepped faster, crossed them and addressed him. It is not easy doing that. Imagine accosting a stranger and telling him what he was doing was not right. But that day I felt sort of compelled and I did.
“Good morning sir. If you don’t mistake me may I say something?”
“Yes. Go ahead” (“han Bolaa” - in Marathi)
I am not fluent in Marathi but I can manage a sort of chow chow of Marathi, Konkani and Hindi. I tried to keep it as polite as possible.
“I saw that you threw your garbage in to the bushes just now. May I request you not to do so?”
The reaction that I was expecting was one or all of,
1. “Who are you to tell me what I should do with my garbage?”
2. “Is this your father’s property”
3. “This road belongs to me as much as it belongs to you”
4. “Go and tell that to all others who are doing so”
5. “Are you the municipality?” etc etc.
I was surprised to hear a very apologetic tone
“Oh, I am very sorry.”
Since he seemed to have taken it in the right spirit I thanked him and gave a very short talk about why it should not be done and we parted ways. He seemed to get it but I did not believe that he would heed my request. Usually nobody cares.
I saw them again yesterday after a gap of about a week. Even before I could get near them, the husband called out to wish me.
“Good morning” I replied and said “I am happy to see that you have not brought your garbage”
“You were right. What we were doing was wrong. Now I have made a pit near my house and dispose our waste there”
It was an unexpected result! I was happy that I was successful in converting at least one amongst the hundreds who keep littering our public places.
“Have a good day” I wished sincerely and walked away, with a nice feeling of having done a good deed.