Last month I went on a weekend outing with a bunch of friends. We were a mix of all sorts married, single, newly married, about to get married and a couple with a kid. Stuffed in 3 cars we drove from Mumbai to Panchgani and most of the group was cranky because of the long drive and also because we got up early.
The only parents in our group knew how to keep the kid quite. They were carrying a big bag of goodies with them. All kinds of junk food from sweets, chips, biscuits, namkeens everything a person on diet is not suppose to eat was in that bag. I named that bag a dentist’s nightmare but didn’t share it out loud with the group. Yes there were a couple of crayons in the bag with a sketch book but the child was least interested in art. He would not even look at the wrapper of the treat he opened. Just gulp it down and go for another.
The parents were non stop giving him treats packed in all kind of wrappers. He was unwrapping one and throwing it in the car. When I asked him why he is throwing the wrappers here and there he told me because the window is closed. I looked at the mother and she was least interested. As long as he child was eating he was not bothering her and she was catching up with her sleep in the car while the apple of her eyes was playing garbage tornado.
I picked up the biggest bag which was a jumbo size chips bag and started collecting wrappers from all over the car. I told the little boy to put his next empty wrapper in that big chips bag so that we can dispose it properly in a dustbin at the food court where we were planning to stop. He simply replied “No!” and threw the wrapper at me. The parents didn’t try to discipline him and I had no idea how to handle this situation. I could barely keep my cool.
The sun was rising and we took a break in Lonavala at a tea stall near the highway. The kid got out of the car with his precious bag of goodies and I got down with the garbage. When I was going to throw the bag of chips in the dustbin near the tea stall, he snatched it from me ad started throwing the garbage everywhere on the side of the road. The stall owner yelled out don’t do that it will attract monkeys. I looked at his mother and she nicely told him to stop and sit in the car which he ignored. She was even buying him more treats at the stall.
The stall owner was right, garbage did attract monkeys. They came in numbers and we all held to our belongings because they are famous to snatch anything they can. After realising that the wrappers were empty they came closer to see if we had any food on us. The boy with a big bag of treats got their attention. They all rushed at him and he screamed and ran towards his father. The gang of monkeys followed him. His father picked him up and started shooing then shouting on the monkeys. His mother also ran for the rescue.
Everyone in the group was trying to find something to scare the monkeys away. They were not budging. They had their eyes set on his bag of treats and were not leaving the poor family. Someone yelled throw the bag away…far away. The father pulled that bag and threw it as far as possible. Monkeys ran towards the bag and finally we could see the family. They were scratched, slapped, scared and the boy’s t-shirt was torn a bit. They looked like they have been through hell and this all happened in just few minutes. So quick that we could not even react.
When everything was quite again I went to the shaken boy and said, “you know if only you would have let me thrown your garbage in the bin”. He looked at me in tears and said, “I am sorry. I will never throw garbage here and there again.” The mother was shocked. It was his first “I am sorry” statement. The family was changed on their way back home. I wish every Indian learns the lesson of not being a litterbug at a young age. Let’s stop being so ignorant and arrogant. Let’s keep our country clean. It is time to change our image. I am highly impressed with “The Great Indian Litterbug” initiative taken by Times of India and of course by “The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” by our Hon. Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
This article is especially written for the “The Great Indian Litterbug” campaign by Times of India and Indiblogger.