The great Indian Litterbug – my humorous yet honest take on it.
I have grown up in a tiny township where we
had been taught the meaning and importance of cleanliness. Hence littering was
an absolute taboo for me, whether at home or in the township. So when I heard
of the word “litterbug”, the first thing that came to my mind was that of the
old Marvel Comics character. A little addicted to rock music at my childhood
days, I can relate this word to one of the Canadian Idie rock band.

It was very late in my life that I realized that
this word has a much higher connotation, that it means a person who litters in
public places. My experiences, having grown up in a clean environment was not
much till my work commitments made me shift base to this mahanagari called
Mumbai which I immediately on landing had assumed to be a giant litter-bag. A
city where you are allowed to throw anything anywhere, pee in public, spit at
almost anything (almost anything unless the authorities decide to fix up a
photograph of a deity there), dump your unwanted belongings at will.

I have the habit of going to the local park
for a morning walk, and this morning was hence, no different. Yeah, true, my
wife ridiculed me for my early morning misadventure, not because she did not want
to see her husband fit, but because, she remembered the park authorities
watering the plants and cleaning up the benches last evening for a new year
party our local society was throwing at the venture last night (oh! I forgot to
mention, she is an evening walker, probably quite oblivious to the theory of
the early riser or perhaps not interested in grabbing the worm). She was sure
that the kids who would have been playing in the park playground, the wings,
the slides and the bars would have left the tiny puddles of dirt on to the
walking track. Not that it made the walking track any unfit for use, but my
better half’s concern was that it would have made the track slippery and hence
slippery making it not a good idea for me at my rapidly progressing age to try
out my walking and jogging stunts today.

Refuting her concern, I did venture out; I did
find the park in shambles, absolutely ruined. But not ruined by the mud, the
water or the puddles. The park and the walking track was full. It was littered
with thrash. All I could see all around me were empty wrappers of wafers and
chips, smashed cans of aerated soft drinks.

My first instinct was to blame the kids, and that’s
what we generally do after getting into a certain age. I am sure, it’s those
spoilt brats who have been so generously throwing around the garbage from the
previous night party. All sorts of thoughts in my mind, what would these kids
grow up to be if they are so insensitive to nature and economy at this age,
what have been they taught at home. I had not even completed my array of
thoughts when what I saw suddenly startled me out of my false pride.
I saw a group of children, in their middle
school age, going around with garbage bags, picking up each item of thrash
lying around. They were so meticulous and particular in the way they were
engaged in their assignment that they would run around enthusiastically and
pick up every single piece of garbage lying around.
And as I was standing there stunned, admiring
the kids, a full grown adult just walked past me and threw an empty pack of
cigarettes followed by another one who opened a pack of “gutka”, emptied it
fully inside his mouth and shamelessly threw away the packet. As I was about to
react and call back the so called gentlemen, immediately following them, one of
the kids ran across, picked up the cigarette pack and the gutka pouch and
religiously put it in the garbage bag without any complaints, no reasoning, no
doubts in her mind as to why should I pick up your shit.

As I saw that sight, I realized that I am just
one of those stupid adults who leave no stone unturned in blaming kids for
everything, without actually realizing that we, the poorly behaved adults are
the ones who are responsible for creating the maximum damage to the
environment. Rather than realizing our own follies, how quick are we to judge
the children.
As I had seen the little girl selflessly pick
up the thrash thrown by the so called educated adult, I realized that with
hardly any experience in life and with the assumed terrible control of their
impulse, how better are they when compared to we adults who wait for every
opportunity to justify our selfish actions and don’t even think twice before
blaming others.

As my story of today morning ends, and I come
back to the subject of shameless public littering, I have honestly started
feeling that the litterbugs seem to be doing an enormous social service by
littering the roads. The people who are so shamelessly going around doing it as
their national right without any guilt are possibly assuming that they are
creating employment to the vulnerable poor social class. I start feeling that
they are under the impression that if they don’t litter, these poor scavengers
and sweepers would no more be hired by the civic authorities and their poor
families would starve.

An amazing point of view, my dear litterbugs,
if you stop this social service, the poor will suffer, their children will
starve to death and the growing number of migrants would not even have one full
square meal a day to eat. So please continue littering, my friends. 
This post is for the Great Indian Litterbug
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