Since the pandemic ravaged the world, there has been a persistent reckoning with the fact that the clock is ticking, if left unaddressed will lead to a catastrophe, subsuming the gargantuan axioms of development. Our health infrastructure crumbled, world cooperation waned, livelihoods were battered, poverty rampaged and everybody rued at the drop of a hat. It is one of the many alarms for us to act; else our future generations will be facing the more ferocious wrath of nature exacerbated by our collective greed and recklessness. The travesty is that these realizations end up as being no less than a farrago of platitudes and eulogies. Environment activists keep making noise every now and then, yet something substantive is far away, it seems. Albeit the clarion calls for net carbon neutrality and promoting a green transition are underway, but countries which are the most susceptible to climate change and least equipped are the unfortunate laggards.
I find it trite to state the significance of nature, everybody knows it. As economies grow, incomes increase, living standards improve, societies progress. People tend to live more ambitious lives, making development in various axes inevitable and indispensable. Thus backtracking on such progress is no less than calamitous, as covid-19 showed, nearly a billion are on the cusp of slipping into poverty.
People in their opulent lifestyles want to have beautifully kept gardens, like to hear birds sing, feel the uncensored zephyr, cherish starry nights and pristine mountains. Whether we acknowledge or not, we feel connected to nature in different ways. Humans like dynamism, we are fond of momentum, we yearn for change to get rid of the monotony of routine, and we value inclusivity too.
When the world was locked up and people mysteriously seemed to have disappeared, skies became clearer, a number of videos of animals coming out on the emptied roads did rounds on social media. The privileged people while sitting in their balconies started appreciating nature and its ecstasy. The rest were busy with the qualms of securing ends meet.
This tryst with the magnanimity of nature started eroding, when we eerily wanted to return to normalcy, go out and dine in a fine restaurant, drink dance and resume our erstwhile familiarity with human touch. For people like me, who live a secluded life; overwhelmed with a deep forest in my backyard, all encompassing mountains standing erect, a reticent little crumb of sky, a far off lazy canal, murky road, also found the whole experience exasperating. It’s not that I wasn’t habituated to such isolation, but a sense of helplessness & inability to exercise choice, jettisoned free will. Even if I wanted to accompany a change for ephemeral, I simply couldn’t.
I never hated my surroundings of intense biodiversity, but it troubled me sometimes when a quick succession of unwarranted ambitions and debilitating debacles follow you. My response to this unprecedented upheaval was ambivalent. As I for once loathed this detachment from the real world then made peace with things I often deplored. Overall, nature kept me sane. I tried to end a vicious cycle, I was caught in, by sitting for hours on wet grass, wandering into the woods, climbing the nearest crescendo to see the wider view, observing the pace of shifting clouds. One day they appeared as if they had ceased. I assiduously watched them to track their movement, yet they didn’t move. The shapes of the grey clouds were receding and fading, the sky becoming clearer with every time I winked. But the motion was still elusive and looked contrived, making the displacement unabated and certain. How mollycoddled the little birds silently observing me while sitting on a delicate twig, might have found me. Soon the sky cleared out, a stark blue canopy with crimson shades engulfed the space above me. My nape started to hurt, June’s scorching heat ushered a stream of sweat down my face. I chuckled and went inside. The clouds were moving, earth doesn’t stop, it was me who was so muddled in self inflicted chaos. The dynamism was there, if I couldn’t fathom it, doesn’t mean its essence had succumbed to an invisible force. Nature in the end, taught me a lesson I knew but had forgotten, nonetheless was needed the most.