It was the first week of June, and there was still no sign of any rainfall in Pune - no clouds in the sky, no respite from the scorching heat, and no positive weather forecasts as well for the next few weeks. Rains had eluded Pune the previous year, and this year as well, they had already been delayed by at least a month.
“Sir ji, there is nobody but ourselves to blame for this change of weather during past 2-3 years. We are responsible for the wrath of God that is punishing the city”, he said in a tone which appeared to be filled with guilt.
I was quite impressed and emotionally stirred by this statement and the way he thought. Even after knowing all about global warming, and how it is rising to alarming levels, most of us are doing nothing. All continue to burn more and more fuel, waste energy and turn their backs to the issue. The problem is that most of the people don’t even want to accept this as a fault of their own and turn a blind eye towards the environment. However, this bus driver was talking more sense than these much more educated and knowledgeable ones. I didn’t know if he was doing anything substantial to save Mother Nature. But at least he was thinking in the right direction. Or so I thought.
“Yes, you are absolutely right. The environmental problems are our own doing. We should try our very best not to damage the environment any further”, I said.
He interrupted, “Yes sir ji. Man must control and bring down the levels of freedom that women enjoy today. “
Had my ears deceived me? Instead of ‘levels of emission from automobiles’, had I heard ‘levels of freedom that women enjoy’? “Beg your pardon!!!”, I said.
“Sir ji, women have been given too much freedom nowadays. They are skimpily dressed. They have boyfriends. They even smoke and drink these days”, he continued. “And worst of all, they even do unmentionable things that should be done by girls only after marriage”, he alluded to consummation of physical bond between the male and the female of a species.
“So???”, I asked him, unable to comprehend what he wanted to say.
“Sir ji, God is looking from heavens above. He has seen all the misdeeds of women in recent times. He is extremely angry on women, and these longer than usual summers and absence of rains is His way of punishing them, and punishing us for letting them get out of control.”
“Moreover Sir ji, government is also not doing anything to control this climatic change. Law punishes men who rape women. Why doesn’t it punish the women who do such unmentionable things before marriage?”, he continued to express his deep concerns for Mother Nature.
I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. And I just couldn’t believe that people could be so lame. Are these ideas of his own? Or have these been implanted into his mind by others who think likewise? Are there many more in this world who believe that the ice is melting in Arctic region because women have started enjoying an occasional booze in India? Are there people who believe that seasons’ cycle has shifted because ladies have stopped hiding their faces behind ghoonghats and burqas?
At first, I thought about explaining in detail to him the real cause of earth’s environmental problems. But then, I realized that it is not only about the environment that I would have to explain to him. I would as well have to get rid of gender bias existing in his mind and inculcate in him equal respect for men and women alike. And the latter cannot be achieved through a lecture or some kind of workshop. It is something that should be slowly instilled into a person right from his childhood. If a child grows up with biased thoughts in his mind, there is no way his thinking can change at any point later in his life. And there could be no way that I could make this bus driver think in any different manner. So I decided to remain silent.
More than two months have now passed since this incident, and it has been raining continuously for past five weeks or so. It seems that people have now realized what great damage they had been carrying out to nature and have perhaps taken positive steps towards ensuring that Rain Gods stay happy. Positive steps such as all unmarried women vowing to stay virgin until they marry, I guess. After all, that’s what causes rains. Right?
PS: You can read here how Mother Nature is avenging man's cruelties to her?