Our Slogan last year was ‘Clean Ponda’ and this year it is ‘Green Ponda’. ‘Our’ means our social group, ‘People Of Ponda’. Please don’t think that we are a group of people who shout slogans and go home. Last year we slogged over 25 Sundays between 6.30 am and 8.30am in the morning, to clean up ‘dirty spots’ in our city. We did not hope to achieve in fifty hours what hundreds of waste collectors couldn’t do in years. The intention was to create an awareness amongst our co inhabitants about their part in keeping our city clean. It was not a complete success nor was it a total failure. But as we gather, our people prefer to retain their dirty ways and a dirty city rather than change a fraction and have a clean city. So be it. This post is not meant for that topic. What I am trying to say here is something different.
As mentioned above, this year our slogan is ‘Green Ponda’. We intend planting as many trees as possible in our city during the rains and also care for them after the rains. With that intention we decided to plant about a hundred saplings of fruit bearing trees all along the walking track in our sports complex. Our members obtained permission from the ‘authorities’, got the saplings from the forest department, transported them to the spot, had the pits dug and fixed a Sunday for the purpose.
We assembled on the ground at seven in the morning to carry out our ‘tree plantation’ drive. Not with a lot of fanfare, but not entirely silently either. We invited a few ‘eminent’ citizens, posted about our programme on whatsapp and facebook, managed to assemble about fifty people, took as many pictures of people planting saplings, posted them on above mentioned media - real time, gave press reports and saw to it that our action did not go unnoticed.
Monsoon was yet to arrive in Goa and we decided to take turns and water the saplings till rains began. We were lucky. We had to water the plants just for a day. It started raining the next evening and poured without break for forty eight hours. I was wondering whether our saplings would survive the onslaught but one of our friends who visited the spot the next day said that they had survived but most of them were bent and almost touching the ground. We decided to do something about it and met at the ground on the third morning. We were surprised to see all the twenty five saplings upright, supported by a stick driven firmly into the ground!
We had absolutely no clue as to whose good work it was. We thanked providence for taking the load off our backs though we did not know how providence had managed it and returned home happy. When he went for his walk the next day, one of our members met the lady, a daily wage worker, who waters the grass around the cricket pitch and enquired if she saw anyone working around our plants. To reproduce the lady’s words “I did it sir. They were all bent down because of rain. All of you big people worked so hard to plant those saplings. I wanted to do my bit”. It had taken me fortyfive minutes just to water the plants with a pipe and I can imagine what was the ‘Bit’ she did. No wages, no help, no whatsapp and no photograph. Just silent service for the sake of the society.
Reminds me of a poem which we had in our Kannada text book in primary section. It starts “ವನಸುಮದೊಲೆನ್ನ ಜೀವನವು ವಿಕಸಿಸುವಂತೆ ಮನವನನುಗೊಳಿಸು ಗುರುವೆ ಹೇ ದೇವ " and goes on "ಕಾನನದಿ ಮಲ್ಲಿಗೆಯು ಮೌನದಿಂ ಬಿರಿದು ನಿಜ ಸೌರಭವ ಸೂಸಿ ತಾನೆಲೆಯ ಪಿಂತಿರ್ದು ದೀನತೆಯ ತೋರಿ ಅಭಿಮಾನವನು ತೊರೆದು ಕೃತಕೃತ್ಯತೆಯ ಪಡೆವಂತೆ " . Meaning, let my life flower like a wild jasmine. Blossoming silently in a forest, spreading fragrance while remaining invisible behind the leaves, with humility, without ego, and thus finding fulfilment”, a lesson for all of us, silently taught.