Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Slush & Muck

You are walking around, remembering experiments and trash-bash days in graduate school and mega-clean-up in college. You see a guy, callous, as ever, rip open a Paan packet and throw the piece on the road, right in front of you. You walk up to him, and are about to say 'Hey' when he proceeds to empty contents into mouth and throw the entire packet onto road. You are livid. You are contemplating picking up the packet, per your usual style in these situations, and handing it back to him with a 'here is something of yours that you dropped, I am sure you meant to go around the corner and try that big trash can over there' - a routine that has yielded successful results in the past. But the ground is slushy, your fingers cringe at the thought of touching it inadvertently. Your skin pulls itself back and erupts in a small fold of sorts, dead skin competing with young skin.

You go for the second best shot. You walk up to guy and try to talk him into believing he has done wrong. His friends step in and support you. They tell him the trash can is over there, there it is. Your friend says, the problem is there aren't enough trash cans. You differ from him, and tell him its a matter of finding one. You show your pocket containing the little pieces of plastic from the children's erasers that you are saving till you find a trash can and simultaneously remember your pocket's contents. He laughs. The litterbug guy seems repentant, though he makes no move to lift up the eye-sore from the road.

You are aging. Your tolerance for everything is decreasing. Your angst is receding. You are thinking of ten good ways to die, although you are technically not that old. You are reluctant now to step out much, secure in your mouldy office and paper-strewn home. You give up. You give in. Next time, you tell him. I walk on this road a lot, you tell him, I will watch out for you, you tell him. He nods.

On the way back a slimy piece of something gets between your feet and your sandals. You fervently hope its a fallen leaf and not real muck or slush, or, horrors, dung. You wonder if there is a different life possible, a different city or country or planet perhaps?

3 comments:

csm said...

kbpm - the other day on the train, 2 guys were opening a toffee wrapper and i realised that they would chuck it out the door. promptly cupped my hands in front of them and politely told them i would drop it off at the garbage bin. nothing else said. they waved a cheery bye when i got off.

easier and simpler to make the 'move' pre-littering. they have actually not done anything which they would need to defend with excuses. hence saves the dialogue and you dont feel old.

in post-littering situations too apply same 'quietly pick up' principle which you have mentioned. just add a scornful look (like salt to taste) if you feel so. there is no point in lecture-baazi.

kbpm said...

yeah, would have picked up normally. i am never quick enough to react in pre-emptive way. also, what when they spit? i usually go after very young people, kids even. somehow still feels (will likely change soon) as if no one has just told them that this is wrong. i mentioned to accompanying friend aboutyour silent trash bash day and he wanted to know what you do for a living. :-) :-)

csm said...

i live for a living ;-)