Jowaki was sweaty and tired. She hated traveling, especially by bus. And to top it off, they were traveling to a remote village. She still couldn’t understand why she was being dragged! It wasn’t as if her relatives would miss her. She hadn’t met any relatives from her mother’s side in last 7 years when they had shifted from Gokulpur to Ahmedabad. Generally talking on phone was enough but as it was mom’s first cousin’s wedding, they had to visit.
She totally understood why mom and dad had to visit, but why her? After 3 months of intense exam preparation, she had got a small vacation of 15 days and now that vacation was going to be wasted in this dirty, forsaken village. Mind you, she wasn’t a snob. She just hated dirty, stinky places, and as far as she could remember, Gokulpur stank to heaven. Literally. She really wondered if the villages knew the difference between a clean, fresh air and stench of a pig sty.
Last time she had visited Gokulpur, she had been 9. An enthusiastic 9 year old who enjoyed running around freely. But she had learnt her lesson in a day. Running around without looking in Gokulpur meant feet covered in fresh cow dung and leftover meals that were thrown in the middle of roads. She definitely wasn’t going to walk this time without looking.
When the bus stopped, Jowaki reluctantly deboarded the bus. She was mentally preparing herself to get ready for the stench. Stench of decaying leftovers strewn everywhere on the street, stench of cow dung splashed everywhere, stench of open defecation.
Jowaki got the jolt of her life as soon as stepped in the village. Everything looked clean. Roads were so clean that there wasn’t even a chocolate wrapper lying. When she and her parents walked for half a kilometer toward the uncle’s home, she couldn’t even find any stray cows popping out their breakfast or dogs dragging rotis all over the place!
It seemed her parents were equally surprised to see such cleanliness. As soon as they were seated in the uncle’s house, dad asked straight away. “What happened? How come there’s so much of cleanliness here?”
Grinning ear to ear, the uncle replied. “Couple of years back, the village was plagued by Chikungunya. Although 90% of the village became infected, only couple of old people died. Later on we received a visitation from government officials who educated us about the importance of cleanliness and how to do it. Since then, all villages take extra care when it comes to cleanliness. We don’t want to have another wave of any illness. Losing Ramesh kaka and Shaku kaki was enough for the village.”
“So how exactly do you keep the village so clean?” Apparently my dad was still not over the shock.
“Aree jijaji, I just have to do one thing. We daily gather our garbage and go to a well that’s located outside the village. Bio gas is produced from the garbage over there, which in turn is producing enough electricity to run water pumps in our farms.”
“So everyone from the village religiously throws their garbage in that well?” My mom couldn’t keep the surprise out of her voice.
Uncle seemed to understand how much of a shock it was for her to see such a clean and fresh village. “Yes didi. We do. It’s for our good, isn’t it? If we don’t take care of our village, who will? All the ladies now gather meal leftovers and wastage in paper bags. Cows are kept at proper places so that cow dung is not everywhere. We have even started selling cow dung cakes in the cities.”
Yes, initially when the government officials laid out the plan, we were skeptical but after the recent deaths, we were more than willing to see if it made any difference. Few months after the implementation of the plan, our village turned into a beautiful place. Air became fresh and refreshing. Our income started rising due to sales from cow dung cakes. Our savings increased due to lower electricity bills from bio gas.”
“What about toilets? Does every house in the village have that?”
“Yes. Last year, Nirbhaya NGO raised money for us and toilets were built in all the houses that didn’t have. Proper plumbing was also done to dump the wastage in that well.”
Well, miracles never cease. At least, in her life. She just saw private and public participation to keep the village clean and safe. It seems India can still redeem itself.
This post is written for Banega Swachh India contest, held by Indiblogger.in.