By Suma Varughese
When faced with a potential water crisis, the Sathe family chalked out proactive measures to resolve the situation, says Suma Varughese
Dad was looking somber as the family gathered around for dinner on one scorcher of a Sunday evening. The humid Mumbai sky hung heavily over the panting city; not even a leaf stirred.
Dinner, fortunately, was super light. Lots of salads, a cold soup and curd rice. While helping herself to some capsicum and paneer salad, Alka?s hand accidentally knocked over Avijit?s glass of water. Dad glared at her. ?It?s a crime to waste water,? he snapped. Alka looked shocked. It was rare for Dad to react like that over a relatively small matter. ?It was an accident,? she mumbled, her head lowered. ?I?ll be more careful next time,? she added a little effortfully.
Dad squeezed her hand. ?Am sorry to have been so reactive, but I am really concerned about the water situation.? After the water had been cleaned up, Dad said, ?The papers have been saying that the El Nino effect may cause a poor monsoon this year.? (El Nino is an ocean current originating in the Pacific Coast of SouthAmerica. One of its effects is to affect the monsoon in South Asia). Everyone groaned.
As it is, the building had severe water shortage. Right now, they were down to just two hours of water every morning; and one hour in the evening. If the monsoon failed them, their situation would indeed be dire. Mom was particularly distraught. How was she going to manage the housework? She and Ajji looked at each other in consternation. Dad put out his hand consolingly.
?Hey, all?s not lost,? he said. ?The first thing we are going to do is to intend that we will have a great monsoon this year. If enough people intend this instead of immediately assuming that we are going to have a poor monsoon, I am sure we will be able to change the course of this El Nino. Every night, after dinner, let?s all take five minutes to get in touch with ourselves, to become still, and finally send out the intention.?
"The first thing we are going to do is to intend that we will have a great monsoon this year. If enough people intend this, I am sure we will be able to change the course of this El Nino."
?Yes, that is a good idea. I find I often just buy into the negative thought or experience and then operate from it, which only reinforces the possibility. Just now, for instance, my thoughts were all about how we would manage, how we would wash clothes, how horrible it was going to be, and so on,? said Mom. ?From now on, I am simply not going to give these fears and apprehensions any headway. I am going to operate from the assumption that the monsoon is plentiful, and that all of India is rejoicing in it, particularly the farmers, and that we are going to have a record harvest this year in all crops.? Dad smiled at her.
?Yes, we should not make what is only a possibility into a reality by owning it and dwelling on it.? ?But is that all we can do about the water situation? There must be more,? cried Nisha, thoroughly roused by the crisis.
?There?s a lot we can do both at the individual and collective level,? said Dad. ?Let?s start with ourselves, first. I think we need to value every drop of water. We simply cannot afford to be casual about its usage. No more knocking over glasses of water,? he said, wagging his finger at Alka, who nodded fervently. ?I promise not to have any more baths until the Met department has confirmed that we have got a good monsoon,? said Avijit, with an air of great martyrdom.
?No need to make such heroic sacrifices, son,? said Dad, sarcastically. ?But it is a good idea to bathe with minimal water say half a bucket,? he added. ?I?ll make sure we wash dishes in basins of water, rather than over the open tap,? said Mom. ?That will save water.? Dad nodded. ?Yes, I have seen that done in ashrams. First you scrub the dish, then you dip it into three successive basins of water.? ?As a matter of fact, I would suggest that as far as possible we stop using the running tap and use mugs for washing our hands and faces, shaving, and so on,? said Ajoba.
?No more showers; only bucket baths,? said Ajji, looking meaningfully at her grandchildren. ?Let?s recycle the water used to clean the floor to water the plants,? suggested Alka, excitedly. ?That?s a good idea,? smiled her mother. ?I won?t put phenol in the water until the monsoon has been declared to be a good one.? ?No leaving half-drunk glasses of water,? said Mom. ?Pour out only as much water as you want.? ?Okay, now for larger measures,?said Dad. ?I am going to get in touch with the committee members of our society, and campaign to have a rainwater harvesting facility in our terrace.? ?Great idea, Dad,? exulted Avijit.
?I am also going to offer my services to an NGO that is reviving dead rivers and lakes through indigenous methods. I think that is the most important measure to take.?
?There is one even more important,? said Ajoba. ?And that is to return to holistic systems. Stop using detergents that pollute water sources. Stop manufacturing methods that create polluting waste that is dumped into rivers and lakes. Also, stop the mania for construction that has taken over this country. Why does everyone need a second home? We are building over water sources.? Dad looked sober. ?That?s going to take a while, Baba,? he said. ?But I agree that we should create awareness of it.?
?We ourselves have created this problem; we ourselves have the capacity to resolve it,? observed Ajoba. ?Yes, indeed,? said Dad. ?We shall overcome,? sang Nisha, linking her arms with that of her brother and sister, and urging them to sing along. The family smiled as it experienced a surge of hope and energy. Yes, they, and the country, and indeed the world, would overcome.
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