How Did We End Up Here?

It was 6 A.M. The sky was dark. The clouds were pitch black. The smoke hung in the air, like a veil. Aditi stepped out of her house, with her face mask on. She closed the door hurriedly, and marched down the pavement. Every step she took, was with utmost caution; she couldn’t see who was in front, she couldn’t see what lay ahead and she couldn’t see where she was going.
Bumping into innumerable people and muttering hurried apologies, she went on. The roads were devoid of traffic, just a couple of fuel-cell vehicles making their way through the dense smog.

She walked past the remains of the park where she played as a toddler. She walked past the remnants of the pool where she swam as a child. She walked past the place where her school used to be, and was now just another landfill. Every day, on her way to work, she would pass all these places which were instrumental in shaping the person she was, and were now reduced to meaningless piles of rubble. And, the same thought would strike her, every day.

“How did we end up here?”

It took her back to the days she was in university, a long, long time ago.

It was 6 A.M. The sky was clear. The sun was shining down weakly. There was a nip in the air. Winter was around the corner. Aditi stepped out of her house, with her face mask on. She closed the door hurriedly, and marched down the pavement. There was barely anyone on it. After all, it was the holiday season. After walking a couple of steps, she stripped off her face mask, took in a deep breath and resumed walking. She stopped at the zebra crossing, whistling nonchalantly. The roads were packed with vehicles; everyone was heading for the railway stations and airports. That’s when it happened.

The first fog of the season began to set in. But this was no ordinary fog. This was something she had never seen before. It looked like ordinary fog, but, greyer. The pedestrian light on the other end of the street slowly became harder to see. Cars began slowing down and headlamps were being switched on. She crossed the street, cautiously, and went on ahead. With every step, the fog seemed to get thicker. She bumped into someone, and muttered an apology. She bumped into someone else, and muttered an apology.

The fog, or smog, as the news reports were calling it, settled down in the next five days. Everything was thrown haywire in their nation. Scientists and meteorologists were baffled by this phenomenon, and had no way to explain what was happening. The smog took its toll on people. Hospitals were filling up faster, medical supplies were running out; the cluelessness regarding the cause of the fog lowered the morale of the people even more. And that’s when the thought struck her.

“How did we end up here?”

It took her back to the days she was in elementary school, a long time ago.

It was 8 A.M. The sky was clear. The sun was shining brightly. A warm breeze was flowing. Spring was around the corner. Aditi stepped out of her house, holding her mother’s hand. She closed the door hurriedly, and marched down the pavement, to the bus stop. There were a kit of people on the pavement, and there were a lot of vehicles on the road. That’s when it happened.

A car went by, and spewed smoke as black as coal. She inhaled it, and starting coughing vigorously. Her mother patted her on the back, but it didn’t stop. She began gasping for air, and had to be rushed to a hospital immediately. Her lungs had been weakened due to five years of smoke inhalation, at that bus stop.

Green organizations and environmentalists had been clamouring for norms regarding pollution, in order to reduce pollution. Their advice, was not paid heed to. Governments and industries turned a deaf ear to their protests and their ideas. Conventional energy sources ruled their country. Their vehicles were all powered by polluting gasoline and diesel. No one had the insight or inclination to take a leap of faith, and switch to non-polluting electric or hybrid-electric vehicles. And that’s what cost her. That’s what cost her whole nation.

 

Her past was reminiscent of a drawing made by a child: it was bright, beautiful and joyful.

Her present was reminiscent of a drawing made by an alcoholic: it was dark, ugly and depressing.

 

Do we really want a future that is reflective of Aditi’s present? Do we want a world where we can’t even breathe freely? It’s not too late. It’s the time to step out of the shell of the tradition of gasoline and diesel. The age of non-conventional vehicles is here. Make the leap of faith before it’s too late.

“Do we want to end up there?”

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