Waters of change

Picture of a Pelican in our neighbourhood lake
Picture of a Pelican in our neighbourhood lake

 

There is a lake in my neighbourhood. It had started becoming extremely filthy, with weeds growing in large numbers and garbage being dumped into it thoughtlessly. Eventually, a commitee was formed to maintain and clean the lake. One of the members of the cause captured the picture above. With this picture in mind, I decided to write  the following story.

Waters of Change

The lake glitters under the blinding sun. It is cool while everything else is hot. It is huge, and everything else seems insignificant. It hints at unexplored mysteries beneath the dark, rippling waters. It stretches from a meshed-in cage of tangled weeds to a wide-open free space. Cows immerse themselves in the water, seeking brief respite from the battering heat. Fish swim around in abundance. Cranes and ducks constantly duck their heads underwater, searching for a meal, while one can almost imagine the wistful gaze of a falcon from above, wishing, for once, to enjoy the refreshing coolness around it that water-birds enjoy.

I watch the scene, perched on a low-lying palm tree, and suddenly spread my wings and take off. It’s a blistering day and I need some relief. I fly for a while, and then veer downwards. I streak through the air and plunge into the watery depths of the lake. The water is cold and refreshing. I revel in its delicious crispness for a moment before coming out for air. The afternoon suddenly seems a lot more enjoyable. The air is sultry, but I am cool.

I stand on one leg, staring out at nothing, when someone speaks.

“You’re not from around here, are you?”

My head snaps around. A dappled brown cow is staring at me.

“No, I’m just visiting. We migrate to India when it’s cold back home.”

The cow nods sagely, as if he’s spent his life studying the migratory patterns of birds.

“So you’ll be going back in the summer?” he asks.

I nod. “Yes, it becomes too hot here. Even now, if it weren’t for these lakes, I probably wouldn’t survive.”

“Lakes!!!” the cow exclaims with delight. “I’d be happy to discuss the story behind this lake.”

I blink. “The lake has … a story?”

“Most things have a story. You might have noticed that this particular lake is somewhat cleaner than the others around here.”

As I look around, I realize there is a rather surprising absence of plastic bags and soapy lather that you usually find in polluted lakes in India. It’s still dirty, but not as embarrassingly filthy as most other lakes.

”It is. Was it always this untouched by humans?”

The cow smiles wistfully.

“It was … once. At least, that’s what my mother told me. She said that is was once beautiful and pure. The water was clean and see-through. Then, those humans interfered, like they usually do. They didn’t have anywhere to dump their own garbage, so they gifted it all to the lakes. There was nothing we could do. It was impossible for animals to enjoy the lakes without choking on the plastic and metal themselves. The contamination level was so high that all the fish were dead. There was no question of drinking the water. Those were horrible days.”

Softly, I ask “How did it become so clean again?”

He brightens up slightly.

“Well, some of those humans seemed to realise their mistake. They set up campaigns to save the lake and cleansed it of its junk. It took a long time, but it was finally restored to this condition. Not as pristine as it used to be, but much better than before. That’s the story of the lake. The end.”

I nod slowly. “That’s quite nice of them. Trying to fix what they broke for once. I guess they’re realizing that the environment also matters. But I should leave now. Maybe I’ll see you again sometime.”

The cow nods. “I’ll wish you well, then. I hope the lakes everywhere you go are as clean as mine.”

I smile and take off.

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Verbal Linguistic Intelligence

Please click on the link below to view an article I wrote for Parent Edge magazine. I interviewed several people who worked in the area of verbal intelligence before writing this article. I’d like to thank Kritika Srinivasan (one of the editors of the magazine) for connecting me with the right people.

Verbal Linguistic Intelligence

Please visit ParentEdge at:  http://parentedge.in/

 

Book Review: A Monster Calls

BOOK : A Monster Calls

AUTHORS : Siobhan Dowd, Patrick Ness

“A Monster Calls” is a brilliantly envisioned and beautifully illustrated book about grief, and the way it changes you, and the way it changes how society sees you.

This book was originally thought up by Carnegie medal winning author Siobhan Dowd, who unfortunately died of cancer too early to finish it. Later, upcoming author Patrick Ness wrote it, and it won the Kate Greenaway medal for Jim Kay’s extraordinary illustrations.

Conor is thirteen years old. His parents are divorced. His father moved to America with a new family. He gets bullied at school. His grandmother doesn’t allow him to do anything remotely fun. And his mother is suffering from an incurable disease.

Somehow, Conor manages to distance himself from all his problems, tries to function without thinking about the inevitable future. But one night, everything changes. Because the monster comes calling for Conor.

The monster wants Conor to face his fears and deal with his grief. It will tell Conor three stories. And then Conor must tell him about the nightmare that has been haunting him every night for a long, long time, and what that nightmare demands of him.

Patrick Ness writes with a perfect mix of childish innocence and beautiful prose. The book is brutally candour and hits you where it hurts. It tells Conor’s story of self-discovery, pain and loss. It tells of how he comes face to face with his inner most desires, his hope, longing, and struggles against realizing the monster inside of him.

The author manages to capture all Conor’s feelings masterfully and some passages are too heart-rending to read. Meanwhile, the grey, dark, angry brush strokes of Jim Kay serve to let one envision each scene.

This book is inspirational, beautiful, and honest. It vividly describes the various levels of despair but also emphasizes the importance of letting go when you need to, and how there can be a happy ending if we know how to approach things. It’s definitely a wonderful read.

What is in a name?

The name of my blog, “If a tree falls in a forest” is based on a philosophical quote. It says “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it actually make a sound?”

The essence of this quote is this; if there is no one around to perceive something’s or someone’s existence, does it actually exist at all? I chose this name as a metaphor for my blog – the chances of someone reading this post, out of all the billions of posts out of all the millions of blogs out there, are quite honestly, almost nil. There may not be any one around to perceive it.

It also brings up an interesting argument. If a tree exists beyond anyone’s perception, and it makes a noise, it stands to reason that if it falls and it makes a sound, this sound is also beyond perception. This means the sound will be observed as a physical activity (as something that happened), but not as we perceive it as a sensation (as something that is experienced). This ably demonstrates the difference between something actually happening in reality and encountering it in a sensorial way.

But I believe that the tree does make a sound, regardless of whether or not there’s someone around to hear it, because it doesn’t need others to prove that it exists. I like writing, if not for others, for myself. For me, this blog is already corporeal, and I think that’s enough to go on.

So, at this point I wouldn’t worry much about who reads my blog, but will keep writing.