24th September 2014. Wednesday.
Aunty 1 in the local train- Chomp chomp chomp. “I just love these chips.”
Aunty 2- Burp. “The new flavor is also really good you know.”
Aunty 1 licks her fingers and crumples up the packet.
“Throw this out will you.”
Aunty 2- “Sure.”
30th September 2014. Thursday.
Aunty 1- “I cannot believe my handbag is full of this rubbish!”
She sits with her handbag on her lap removing bus tickets, train tickets, 5 star wrappers and about 37 bills from hidden pockets.
Aunty 2- “That’s okay. Mine was worse when I cleaned it yesterday.”
Aunty 1 starts throwing the rubbish out, one by one.
Me- Trying to act as if I didn’t see her.
3rd October 2014. Friday.
Aunty 2- “You know you shouldn’t drink coke too much,” all the while slurping on a bottle of Pepsi.
Aunty 1- “Yes I know.” Slurp.
They keep slurping till the very last drop.
Aunty 2- Here give me yours, I’ll throw it out.”
Me (finally)- “Er.. Aunty, there’s a cleanliness drive going on in the country. I don’t think you should throw that out.”
Aunty 2- “Well..uh”
Aunty 1- “Who cares? They will clean the bottles out during the drive. Big deal.”
Aunty 2 opens window. Throws bottles.
PM Modi’s Clean India Mission has a fairy tale quality about it. An India without debris filled tracks, without paan stained walls? Without gutters choking with plastic waste? No one dares to believe it could be real in four years.
We see people tweeting with #MyCleanIndia and #SwachhaBharat as if their life depended on it. But ask them to get up from their comfy couches and pick up the garbage in Juhu, they might give you an expression full of disgust.
The aforementioned aunties don’t care for Swachha India more than they care for a Swachha handbag or a Swachha living room. And making them throw waste into dustbins? Ha Ha.
It is a difficult mission. Though many have taken the oath, the mission has more to it than holding a jhaadu and sweeping a road. It needs truckloads of mental strength from the entire Indian population.
Can we do it?
As Modi says- “If we can get to Mars, we can clean India.”
It’s only one day into the mission anyway. Let’s hope Aunty 1 and 2 might turn into beautiful, no-debris-throwing, stopping-others-from-throwing-debris type aunties in a year.
And then we can confidently say- Ab Swachhe din aane vale hai..