Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Anjali - The Clay Ganesha for the Colony

The road leading to our house is filled with thousands of Ganeshas - big ones - with Ganesh Chaturthi round the corner. Most are made of Plaster of Paris perhaps, some are clay. Anjali has got it firmly in her head that clay must be used for the idols for the Ganesha festival and artificial idols are not good for the environment (thanks to Daksha school). Every year they have a clay Ganesha making competition at school after which she brings her Ganesha home. For the past few years we have been praying to the clay Ganesha Anjali makes at school and everyone is fine with that. No more artificial idols at home.

But now the young lady is growing older and she realised that she is part of the colony and not just the house. And that the colony has a big Ganesha celebration with a big idol. She got a doubt.

'What Ganesha do they use at the colony celebrations?' she asked yesterday afternoon. 'Clay.'
'I don't know,' I said. 'But it will be a big one. May be an artificial one.'
'Then we must tell them to use a clay Ganesha,' she said resolutely.

I thought for a moment. It did not appear to be a pleasant task. The colony committee and I do not see eye to eye on some issues and they are stuck up on certain issues. If for some reason they are already in favour of an artificial Ganesha (which would have been approved after some committee meetings) they may not take kindly to this last-minute suggestion.

'Let's go and meet the committee President,' I said, with no conviction. 'Do you want to tell him?'
Anjali sensed that I was asking her to take the lead and explain her position to the elders. For a moment she faltered.
'Yes,' she said. 'Let us go and meet the President.'
(You could have thrown me off by naming someone important like the colony President.)

I hoped she would forget about this Ganesha business now that she was given the mantle of explaining the clay story to Mr. President. But she asked me this morning again.
'When shall we meet the President?'
''In the evening, after school?' I told her. Maybe she would forget.
She nodded.

In the evening, soon after she returned from school, she asked again.
'Nanna, shall we go to meet the President? Where does he live?'
I was on the phone when she asked. I told her we will go to the community hall and see if he was in the office. Soon after we headed there.

While walking to the community hall she looked a bit pensive.
'I am a bit scared,' she confessed. 'But it is an important thing and the right thing to do so we must go.'

Wow. I wish I had this courage and conviction in so many things I let go. I wish I had braved through my fear.
I nodded.

We walked into the community hall. The secretary was there with another official. They waved at us.
We walked over to them.
'She wants to know what Ganesha you are installing at the community hall,' I asked.
He was most kind.
'What do you want us to buy?' he asked her.
'Clay,' she said.
'That's what we bought,' he said, holding her hand. 'Come I will show you.'

Anjali's face lit up like a million bulbs. 'Clay?' she asked.
I could not help smiling at the look on her face. It was priceless. Nor could the two officials.
'Come,' he said and took us to the room where they kept the idol under wraps. It was a 4 feet high clay Ganesha idol.

'This is for you only,' he said. 'We must do what you want. Are you performing at the cultural programs?'
After a few more questions about her school etc we took leave.

I am still quite amazed at the whole process. At her idea to influence the colony she was part of. Her perseverance. Her coming with me despite being scared. Nothing to beat her joy when she knew that we were in fact praying to a clay Ganesha.

Ah, so her influence will grow, in areas she can influence, and I hope all of us do the same thing with the same conviction and courage. I love the environmental focus Daksha school gives and the moral courage they instilled in their students. Well done Anjali, for staying true to your thoughts and convictions and carrying the idea through. Certainly the secretary will speak to his other colleagues and surely they can pat themselves on doing the right thing by the kids.

Wonder what I am in for as she grows older. But certainly the right things, the important things. Must be done.


Daksha Young Writers said...

Awesome Hari! I cant express how happy I am to learn about Anjali's initiative and her conviction about what is environmentally right. I am so proud of her! We are on the right track after all!!!

Unknown said...

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" So,our little star's initiation led us to a safer environment. Proud of you Anjali (Tare zameen par ).