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As We Deal With Covid-19, Mother Earth Is Rebooting

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This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.
WhyOnEarth logo mobEditor’s Note: Are you bothered by the drastic changes in our climate, causing extreme weather events and calamities such as the Kerala Floods? #WhyOnEarth aims to take the truth to the people with stories, experiences, opinions and revelations about the climate change reality that you should know, and act on. Have a story to share? Click here and publish.

In moments like these, you realize how small you are in the big schemes of life. How a small particle got the whole world at a standstill – crashed global financial markets, made the business cut back, triggered panic, left a massive gap in demand-supply of commodities, and is leading to a worldwide recession. It’s a way of understanding how he rolls and you rock! How the ‘chalta hai’ (it’s okay, be chill) attitude doesn’t work, but these ‘choti-moti‘ (small) mistakes over a while, made us all come under a dramatic lockdown.

India goes silent as PM Modi announces a 21-day lockdown/Photo: Reuters

And we had this coming! A man may weigh lighter on Mars, but we have certainly taken our planet Earth very lightly. Coronavirus is just the wake-up call we needed, and with ‘we,’ I mean, we – the people, beyond religion, colour and geography! While isolation is the need of the hour, it’s the invention of repair that will be needed in the longer run.

You can’t outrun Corona. Tomorrow there will be something else that will stand our way. Because every time a human or a nation acts complacent – with technology, a booming economy, aim to reach for the stars, someone above tells them how small they are and how only he is the one who plans and mind you, he is the biggest scriptwriter of all!

Nature’s Way Of Restoring Balance?

I feel it’s nature’s way of restoring balance, saying, “I have had enough, I gave you all of this, and what did you humans do? Cut and slice me exhausting my resources. You didn’t think twice and kept living your selfish life in denial. You thought no one is retaining a track? I had enough. Now it’s my turn and think twice before you call me crude because your race has been far worse over the years.”

Who thought this is where we will land in 2020? So many centuries have gone by, yet humanity remains the biggest threat to humankind. What we are undergoing happens only in movies or fiction, but when he plays, reality becomes chilling than fiction. It’s real. It’s out there, and it puts everything under perspective – relationships, food, air, or even a toilet roll! “Aaj har uss cheez ki keemat pata chal rahi hai, jise aapne halke mein liya” (Everything you took lightly, today, you’re realizing its value).

Given my fascination for geography, more precisely Siberia, two weeks ago, I landed on this documentary of a woman named Agafia. She is a 75-year-old Russian Old Believers who still lives in up a remote mountainside in the Abakan Range, all by herself, 240 kms away from civilization. I was aghast as I could not comprehend how she chose to stay alone, without human interaction. She is at home arrest most of the day as temperature freezes out in the open. And look, where am I? Not in Serbia, but yes, under home arrest.

But you know the sad part of it? People will still not learn! Some will scoff with “Arre, abhi kuch dino ki baat hai, sab theek ho jaayega.” (It’s just a matter of a few days, everything will be fine). Some will get into jantar-mantar and some will keep blaming a country, an ethnicity or a nation. My concern is – when will we see the bigger picture? It’s the same as when people cry with rising heat in summers but close their eyes while installing five air-conditioners in their homes. The vicious cycle for the demand of air conditioner – need for power – emissions – hotter temperatures is a loop.

Back in Hyderabad, we had an air conditioner and a cooler. Trust me; I used to like the latter. It was more refreshing, consumed less energy, had no effect on Mother Nature, and bought back my childhood.  “Boond boond se saagar banta hai aur thoda thoda kar ke zeher bhi banta hai” (Just like an ocean is made of droplets of water, even poison is accumulated with many tiny droplets).

Now, you decide where you land.

The same goes for water. I don’t remember how many fights I had with the maids back home yelling on top of my lungs, “Pani band karo Amma. Sabse pehle tum-hi logo ko dikkat hogi. (Stop using so much water now, you’ll be in deep trouble in the future). But then humans have a problem learning solutions first hand. Chalta hai attitude has blocked their thinking capacities.

It’s Time To Get Our Priorities Right

Police brutality in Uttar Pradesh.

2020 has been harsh so far. Earlier this year, my country was fighting with a virus installed in their heads, colour coding every fellow citizen in saffron and green till some were soaked in red.

We may be able to find a vaccine for coronavirus, but I don’t know how to handle the earlier bit.

Sometimes the believer in me feels the current ordeal was a seething God’s way to intervene, to let humans know “Main hoon aur sabr bhi rakhta hoon, par mera imtehaan lene ki galti mat karna.” (I exist, I’m patient and kind, but don’t take it for granted).

Times like these also bring us to regain focus on things that matter. In our daily rat race, we often forget the importance of living and the reason for our life. And then comes a day you know what is what?

In April 2017, I stood outside the operation theatre as they took my two-and-a-half- year old daughter from my hands to lead to the operation theatre. Mysha had to get a procedure done to get her urine reflux fixed. Till today, that moment stays in my head because I remember closing my eyes and saying, “Nothing else matters but this.” I realised how we couldn’t take life for granted. The same goes for Mother Earth, and I think it’s rebooting, so while we isolate from the world by sitting at home, nature enjoys its much-deserved privacy and detox.

A pandemic should be enough for us to meditate, to change our lifestyle. To think – about our wrongdoings, our vulnerability, our fragile environment, our people, and civilization – in a holistic manner. Together we can, and we will make a difference, so let’s look out for each other in these testing times.

And on a lighter note, with every day a new story coming in, when all is changing, one thing remains constant. The way my five-year-old sleeps on me every night, sniffing my neck, thinking, “Mummy hai toh sab theek hai” (If I have Mom with me, all’s well). And looking in her eyes, I realize even though I am a small atom in this big galaxy, I may be a world for someone because, for her, it starts with me!

Like always, I am most sacred for future generations. This human drafted derelict planet is not the heritage I want to leave behind. They deserve a better world!

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        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

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        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

        Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

        Find out more about her campaign here.

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        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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