It’s been eighteen months since,
I read the headline with a wince,
“Delhi most polluted city in the world”, it said,
Filling me with great anxiety and dread,
Two little tots dandled on my knee,
And another likely, to make it three,
“Don’t worry”, said my wife, “it’ll be fine”,
“We had the same air in ‘99,
And then see how it changed,
With a little hope, all can be arranged.”
“I’ll wait a year”, quoth I,
“and then give something else a try”,
“For our elected must now sound the clarion cry,
And we shall see what our netas do,
To turn our sky from grey to blue”.
The days fled past, as if in terror,
Running from the grim pallor,
That left us breathless with the wheeze,
As we watched our youngest cough and sneeze.
The presses worked overtime to convey,
Awful statistics with increasing dismay,
Of billowing plumes from nocturnal trucks,
That from our lungs the power sucks,
And construction dust and smoking stacks,
All displaying what the capital lacks,
Some left town so the air wouldn’t kill,
The Government however sat stock still,
With nary acknowledgment or apology,
Bidding adieu to the environmental refugee.
“Enough of this stupor”, I thought,
“My patience has gone and my nerves are fraught,
It is time to try my inadequate bit,
And see if any solution would fit.”
The problem was a mountain high,
But not for kindred souls who aren’t shy,
Using our legal skills, albeit modest,
We moved the Supreme Court for our youngest,
Two couples joined forces with us,
As we sought to kick up a fuss.
The “Infants’ petition” was in autumn born,
And on every paper and channel it was on,
People who knew that fireworks charred and killed,
Now learnt of tiny lungs that stilled.
The Court was sadly unconvinced of this fate,
And allowed the case to be given another date,
But come Diwali week and we find,
That Delhi’s heart is stronger than its mind,
Sales have plummeted giving succour,
So that kids and animals don’t suffer,
No court or leader gave us this answer,
For wisdom and empathy can never be asunder,
Now with brightness of eye and sense of purpose,
Our promises to little hearts leave us nerveless,
With ten million voices fuelling our vigour anew.
This struggle will grow and continue,
No matter what, we will fight and survive,
And bury alive that dreaded PM 2.5.
Gopal Sankaranarayanan is an advocate of the Supreme Court of India and founding member, Care for Air. When his wife and middle child developed allergies, he started looking for solutions. He sees clean air as a fundamental right of all citizens and believes in action by the people where the Government abdicates its role.
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