“I am tired. I can’t do this anymore.” I said to my parents, faintly and wearily, on a fine Friday morning. The end of semester always went tough on me, irrespective of my level of intense prior preparation. My father quietly felt the aura of mental frustration in the air and presented me with an idea to join him on a grocery shopping spree. The plan completely caught me off guard, forcing my exhausted brain to swiftly snatch the agreeable offer at hand.
Seeing the world from a car window never looked so unusual and amusing to me before. May be the mental and physical solitary confinement that came along with the exam season really went bone deep this time. I was feeling happy and free not to be under any obligation of my self-created educational deadlines for a moment or two. The cinematic view of moving objects soon came to a halt, though, when my father put off the engine and informed me that we reached our destination. I unthinkingly told him that I wanted to stay in the car and enjoy the hustle and bustle of the crowed road. He got confused at first, but eventually agreed, and left me all alone to savor my new found momentary freedom from business studies.
I was amazed to discover how everything on that road looked so beautiful in complete isolation—enthusiastic children in school uniforms, shopkeepers with booming positive energy, pedestrians full of zeal for life, and a donkey with its baggage of humility. But the whole wholesome view got electrocuted when an odd mishmash of those set of things caught my eye. I saw two young men, apparently brothers, walking hastily on a footpath. Suddenly, an evil scheme hit the younger boy from nowhere and he decided to stop and kick the helpless donkey hard in its stomach. The older boy looked completely uninterested in what was happening, and clearly avoided making amends for his younger brother’s unkind behavior. For me, it was a big splash of reality to absorb in one go. What I was experiencing was the utter truth in contrast to what was lying in piles on my study table.
While I was mourning the callousness of my nation and blaming the entire thing on those boys’ rebellious nature, my eyes witnessed a mother and daughter walking hand in hand. The little girl was all dolled up in her kindergarten uniform and undying childhood shimmer. The sight was so relaxing that I dropped the earlier agony and started observing them mutely. I soothed my eyes and mind, to my heart’s content, with the sugarcoated innocence in that scenario. But the picturesque view soon revealed its true colors when the little girl abruptly stopped, grabbed a handful of gravel from the side walk, and threw it on the poor donkey’s face. The mother remained tightlipped while her daughter committed the unforgivable sin of hurting a hapless living being. When the girl emptied her total stock of hidden vengeance, the two continued with their leisurely walk back home.
The things I encountered that day pushed me into the deep depths of sadness and gloom. Where is our nation headed? Where do we really stand? The amount of hate packed in those little packages scared me to death. While I was drowning into my unclear notions my father opened the car’s door and asked me, “Was it a good change stepping out of your room?”, and I replied sheepishly, “Yes dad, it was a profound change. Now I know that some things are merely an illusion for worn out minds.”
The heartrending sights, which I lately witnessed, fiddled with my mind again and again. They affected my ability to reason; they clouded my capacity to judge. People of my land have gotten so tired of uncertainties and tensions that they have jumped off the sentimental boat. It’s disastrous that they’ve stopped feeling anything; it’s upsetting that they’ve stopped loving for no reasons. Wise men say that the character of a man can be judged when he does something good without expecting anything in return. Loving animals is, undoubtedly, the first step towards developing a soul to be good for the rest of its subsistence. Alas, our nation wishes to touch the skies and forgot how to take the very first step.
Almost three decades ago, we were really a good nation. We opened the doors of our hearts and homes for cows, goats, chickens, cats, and dogs. We considered them as our family members and taught our children to love without intentions. But now, the smart phones and social networks have blinded us so savagely that we refuse to see unplanned affection. Today, children don’t want a bird or a kitten for their birthday. They demand expensive laptops, hi-tech computers and latest video games from their parents. But wires and circuits can never nurture petite hearts; they can only nurture our already nurtured minds and reflexes.
Gandhi once said: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Well, these lines never failed to restore my spirit in recent past. Now, they raise millions of painful questions in my mind, and I often ask myself, “Are we progressing morally?”
So, come forward and place the first brick to soften our stone cold nation. Start with a cold-blooded goldfish which at least has a heart and an ability to remember love for three seconds, unlike our so-called civilized versions. Although constant struggles and continuous worries have ripped our strength into shreds, we can always start afresh. We can always open our hearts and doors to the symbols of unpolluted love, and let those creatures contaminate our cold spirits with their lasting warmth.
Nations do not change overnight, but a beam of hope is always there. We can take the first step towards a positive change by revitalizing the mindsets of our younger generation. It is absolutely possible to rekindle the romance which we once shared with the ability to love beyond false intentions. The key is to try, tirelessly, and make our children realize the value of priceless transactions and wordless returns every step of the way.