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.