I often felt confused and had to resist a temptation to laugh whenever I saw a particular scene in any movie, where the hero is holding soil in his hand and pontificating to anyone in the vicinity saying “Mere Desh ki mitti…” I too could not decipher those Sanskrit “shlokas” mentioning “This body is made up of soil and ultimately one day it will be one with the soil.” The realization dawned on me when I read about “Food Chain”, “Carbon Cycle”, “Nitrogen Cycle” and various other cycles in detail in biology. Then it triggered a thought process, how most of the things invariably generated from the soil and they return to the same. My oxygen, my lunch, my dinner, my breakfast, my fruits, water even if it is packed in Kinley or Bislery bottles, my table, my chair, my books, copies, copper wires enabling me to enjoy the benefits of electricity, gold ear-rings, marbles to adorn the floor, petrol making commuting easier..the list is endless. How my body constantly takes ingredients grown in the soil. How all the products developed in this soil nourishes my body making me healthier and stronger day by day. Now I no longer feel the urge to laugh when I witness a scene in a movie, exalting the virtue of soil of my motherland.
When I was in my home-town, I never bothered about vegetables and fruits and the source of food grains or milk products. Almost everything is grown in and around the kitchen garden or in the fields in our village, which is not far away from the city. When my little sister tasted milk for the first time in another city, she refused to drink it saying, “This is not milk. Milk does not taste like this”!
I remember the joy of sneaking into my garden, in the hot afternoon, when all grown ups were taking a nap. How I loved climbing a tree of my choice, (be it mango, guava, litchi or any other fruit tree) plucking the fruits from my hand, and eating it right there sitting on the branch of the tree, shadowing myself from the harsh sun. How many novels and story books I had read positioning myself on my favorite guava tree feeling the tranquility all around me or occasionally broken down by chirping of birds or by sweetest voice of a stray cuckoo.
But then I never realized how lucky I was. This awareness dawned on me when I came to a big city. First time, when I had to purchase peaches at exorbitant price, I could not stop tears spilling from my eyes. I even wrote a poem on the whole experience.
The charm of a small city was never felt by me till now. Today, if I want to go swimming, or be member of a library or want to play badminton, I have to cover considerable distance and not to mention, shell out a good sum of money. It saps the joy of doing anything naturally. For everything you have to make an enormous amount of effort.
Back home, I always took everything for granted. I thought itâ€™s the way of life for almost everyone. But I have to learn a lesson. When I was in this big city, I purchased few medium sized plastic tubs, made small holes at the bottom of each tub, put them at the roof of my third floor apartment, pulled my jeans upto my knees, took few hand tools and tried to fetch some soil from the roadside. It took considerable effort to ignore the curious glances of passers by. Anyway I filled all the tubs with soil, removing pebbles. I watered them for few days. When I thought, the time was â€œripeâ€? I planted seeds which I bought from my home-town. My excitement knew no bounds when I saw spinach, tomatoes and cabbage saplings growing in my plastic tubs. I watered them regularly. I made some thrilling plans to grow some climber vegetables such as cucumbers, karelas etc. by planting them in deep earthen pots.
But all my plans remained plans only. To my horror, I realized â€œthisâ€? soil is not like my â€œhome soil.â€? Plants in them just grew upto a size and afterwards refused to bear flowers and fruits.
Then I became wiser a bit. I had to learn another first hand lesson in environmental science, how man has damaged the soil and his environment. What should I do now? I can not spend my entire life â€œpluckingâ€? fruits and vegetables from the refrigerator. Now I have learnt to respect the earth and bought some small agricultural tools. I dig small holes and I try to put all the peels of vegetables, fruits or egg shells into a small patch of soil instead of giving it to garbage-wallah. I have to return what I got and still getting from this earth. I can not be so ungrateful to this mother earth.