Tuesday, 3 June 2014
When was the last time you said, “I wish …”, and stopped short, because either you didn’t really know what you wanted or, worse, you knew you couldn’t have it?
On the first day of June, when most children spent their last day of summer at home around adults preparing for another weekly battle against the world, there were some lucky ones that got to indulge in their longed for Sunday lie-in. There was, however, another set of mad-hatters who decided to break free.
Together with a burly band of khakhi-clad foot soldiers of the local administration and scrawny women with no more than the expectation of an extra day’s wage (and of course, everything else that they could guilt out), for something they should have been deployed to do in the working week, anyway, a bunch of urban enthusiasts of all ages, who would not settle for compromise any more, got about scraping up the mess of many years. They ate, they drank, they served, they re-energized repeatedly and they heaved some more.
With shovels and spades and greens, more came by in blues and yellows and tens of little hands in different sizes, to banish dark clouds of prolonged apathy into a beautiful bay of sanitised appeal, pretty patterns and fresh zeal.
And though the Sun seared through all determined effort and a hard-earned day of rest kept slipping by, the road outside our campus was cleaned, lush crotons lined the parameter and a length of dreary grey walls bore eye-catching art.
There was something else too — a heightened sense of pride in returning to community and making a mark, an overwhelming satisfaction in bringing our children close to the reality that flourishes outside the high walls of esteemed urbania. And a tranquil dignity that lingers as a result of it.
Still more lingered in the aftermath of those herculean hours of toil. Contemplations on the nature of Man, for instance, and our role in its advancement.
We never stop wanting. Whether it is tangible material gratification or the search for spiritual contentment, the human mind is always restive for more. Yet, in spite of its many disparities, the one thing that levels all humanity is the desire for fulfillment. Some know it, others don’t. Some work for it, others simply expect it as a perk of living. And again, what remains true for all is that when the basics become elusive for reasons that beat logic, something snaps.
Mahatma Gandhi said it once, but we have heard it too many times. “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”, he said. Well, there’s just the one modern Mahatma, right? Go figure. But every once in a rare while, when intent gives as good as it gets, a fascinating surge takes over.
People come together, for starts. And they bring more in. And while the others stand and wonder which way to sway, one more changes sides. It is quite amazing to see what unfolds then.
There has been a massive movement that seeks to quietly go about making ugly neighbourhoods clean and keeping them so. With the help of the local administration, they have achieved the impossible — they have inspired an entire generation of change makers. Team WECAN is one of them. Voluntary, inclusive and fiercely determined, this group of residents of a large residential complex in North Bangalore have taken it upon themselves to bring about positive social change. They run education drives to bring local government schools on par with the competition in the real world, they bring vegetable gardens into high rise balconies and they endeavour to keep the neighbourhood clean.
This Sunday, this small group of change makers took it upon themselves to go beyond inspiration and get down to raw, knuckle-to-brick action. And while the children came away with an exhilarating and essential lesson in positive community involvement, the adults left proud of a day well spent.
Why? Because, we care. Because, WECAN.