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A Barbaric action, lack of thoughtfulness, no sense of belonging, has nothing to do with “illiteracy. In every sense, a good citizen of any nation is the representative of his or her upbringing. Every citizen is the torch-bearer of his or her culture…

A country’s dignity lies in the way, the citizens treat its heritage, children, and women. No country in the world which lacks diverse mutual respect or elementary civic sense is ever reputed.

The nations’ environment has been invariably progressing at a rapid speed, and it is today breeding more intelligent beings than ever before. The key concern now is; why can’t 74% of the literate population avoid maltreatment to/in its own surroundings, and stop the damage to its heritage before occurrence or while vandalism is in progress?

A home is to a family, as is the nation to its citizens… The former is more often followed and the latter is ignored like it’s no one’s affair.

We have since childhood encountered several defacement acts by our fellow countrymen. We see defacement range from littered parks to filthy roads, from horribly redesigned sculptures in the museum to disastrous work of arts done on pavement walls, from streets used as lavatories, to corners on the roads used as garbage factories, and now alteration of content on websites and publicly editable repositories to include nonsensical references, to destruction of public amenities and infrastructure.

“One for All, and All for One”, until this thought does not get ingrained in the minds of every individual.., & citizens do not strongly develop the structure of “Emotional Intelligence”, & until the mentality does not change from (“I”) to (“We, us, & our”) the struggle of ratios (Interested in country’s wellbeing : interested in only my wellbeing) will continue to grow.

I had this wonderful opportunity about 10 years ago to experience, and probably see just about clearly, the paintings that depict the many lives of Buddha inside the beautiful Ajanta caves near Aurangabad. The tiring but yet, an amazing two kilometers of a steep stretch that I walked during a pleasant October morning, to witness the finest arts from the 1st & 2nd century BCE, had brilliant tales to tell, about the eye for detail the sculptors of that era had for Life & Art. The basalt rocks on which the various births of Buddha were carved looked like a motion cinema to the eyes of those who loved art. All the torches that were lit up by the tourists inside each of the 30 dark caves I visited, was alarming, and it sensitized us to the presence of life in the carved sculptures.

This was one of the most magnificent and striking experiences of my life. I had almost forgotten that I was living in the 20th century only until my ears heard something very disturbing, and my eyes wanted to track something horrid amidst the lucid world I thought I was in…..

A group of disinterested young voices about the art and sculptures inside the cave were whispering about giving wings to an atrocious motive…

To listen to something so heinous, was like being kicked by an angry horse in the middle of a blissful dream in one’s sleep. I instantly wanted to turn around and give that voice a spanking which he would remember for life…..

Ajanta is one of India’s most cherished heritage, and it was disheartening to listen to something so ridiculous from a generation, which is expected to become a respectable representative of its nation to the world.

The voice that spoke, was clearly of a teenager more on the latter side of teens. Inside the dark cave voices were very difficult to be traced by their face. This voice was certainly with a group of other voices that chuckled in whispers at what he had silently uttered. The group slyly tried to head out from the cave, and I quietly followed them in the light of my knowledge and my torch, to ensure I stopped them and defeated their wicked objective.

The brightness outside the cave distressed my eyes a little before they adjusted themselves to the environment outside.

 

I very fuzzily saw four young boys, probably the locals, dressed not so modestly, looking very flashy in bright shirts and tight resident jeans, with thickly greased hair heading close towards the wall that took a turn towards the cave’s entrance. As I increased my walking pace and got closer to them, I saw one of them take out a small piece of chalk from his pocket.

I stood behind to watch what they did, without their knowledge of my presence.

A few tourists who passed by looked at them with a lot of discomfort. The guy with the chalk in his hand first drew a line on the wall with an arrow marking towards the cave’s entrance and wrote just below it

“Shauchalya” (meaning public lavatory) in Hindi. I got outraged at this point. My rage was followed by some fear as well. Instantly, I told myself; “do not react! These guys may be local goons, and it may turn out to be a costly affair for you Deepthi”.

The fear acted in the space between my stimulus and response, and I changed my approach instantly.

I walked towards them with poise and conviction, and spoke to them in Hindi inquiring… if they all were residents of the same place? After learning, that they were from the same place and that they weren’t as threatening as I thought they could be, I took a slightly bolder step on a humorous note.

I told them, that I wished to go to their home. One of them immediately exclaimed, “Why?”

I told them it would be great fun to draw an arrow with the white chalk on the wall outside their house and write “Shauchalya

In a matter of few seconds, I had put their monster minds to think like humans should!!

I believe, when you want to bring about a good change, the universe supports your thoughts & actions. Goodness manifests in the form of the change you anticipate.

I watched them feel hopeless and ashamed of their action. While their awkward silence prevailed, I continued to educate them by telling… “A country’s heritage is the finest dream of a traveler. Something disturbing like this cannot be a part of the traveler’s experience, especially if the tourist is from a foreign land. It is our duty to respect our public property and not let down our culture” There was an acute silence after I had finished saying all this.

As I was talking, I realized that I was drawing the undue attention of the few tourists passing by and that I should stop. Just when I did that, a voice erupted in the middle of the awkward silence. One of the boys said. ”Didi maaf karna” (Please forgive me in Hindi)

I smiled and told them… “Care for the national property, just the way you care for your home”

The next moment I saw this guy rigorously trying to erase & get rid of the rubbish he had written on the rock wall using his handkerchief.

I was happy to see someone getting better than their own self in a span of few minutes, and I realized the importance of being a good citizen, and the importance of getting another citizen acquainted to the goodness inside them.

Like I said earlier “One for all and All for one…”

I am proud to say, that I was a reason for eradicating an act of defacement to my country’s heritage. I wish there was something I could do about the past damages… but in vain!

To be a good citizen, one must be naturally inclined towards protecting their country’s valuable heritage, & property.

The fear of facing legal implications is a reason; why only hypocrites respect their nation…..

 

Jai Hind!

Deepthi Musley