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When novelty is the ideal, waste keep piling up, wreaking havoc to the Earth. Women mustn’t wait for someone else to create a better future.
“Litter litter everywhere no space to walk”, I want to cry on.
Every item we use electronics or pens, we are supplied with ‘use and throw’ units. Any gadgets we gleefully pay for, to possess as a cherished object, turns out to be junk in a few years. Nobody wants to repair anything anymore. There are garbage heaps at every corner of the thoroughfares and they are mostly health hazards that emit toxins.
We get our houses fitted with state of the art electrical panels, faucets and bathroom fittings, thinking our life is going to be easy and pleasant from now on. In two years the state of the art flops. We call the plumber who comes with no tools and declares ‘We will change the spindle’ or ‘Whole component has to be changed!’. He advises, ‘You change the faucet sir’, with a litany of excuses prepared- Cistern is leaking, spare parts are not available in the market, the manufacturers have stopped making this model, sir!
My loyal sewing machine conked off after twenty-five years of flawless service. I called the mechanic, he refused a house visit and asked me to bring the machine to the shop. He repaired it in a week but advised me to upgrade to a better one. The ‘better one’, however, did not stand up to my expectations. The promotional promises betrayed me and I felt cheated.
In my younger days, we had a second-hand Puff machine which gave a better performance. My mother stitched on it, my two sisters used it to make dresses for themselves as well as to dress up their little sister and brother. I used the contraption till my marriage and it was still there when I went to see mother several times. The new models give way if we stitch anything like denim or flannel.
Even in my childhood days, I have seen mothers yearning for an easier way to cook and clean. My grandmother, mother and my sisters had to tend to a hearth and keep the log wood or coal going for whole day. Every night they would clean the hearth with cow dung and decorate it with rice flour, to keep the insects and cockroaches away! But the parasites invaded nevertheless!
Then the pressure cooker came as a boon, but lo! Flying pressure cookers, bursting cookers and silent burning of pressure cookers left the house wife scarred for life. They longed for some gadget more helpful, safer and dependable. Gas burner relieved the housewife’s trauma of keeping up with the schedules of the office going men and school going children to some extent. But the threat of cylinders bursting always kept them on tenterhooks. The burner chokes at times. The technician smirks and advises a new one. Modular kitchens are not meant for big families. But we have modular families to balance that.
We cherished the kitchen wares handed down from our grandmothers or mother-in-law. We proudly displayed the antique pieces to friends and relatives. The younger generation laugh at such pride, ‘These are museum pieces, everything is use and throw mother’, they snigger. Yes everything is use and throw. I see new mattress, cooker, hairdryer and music systems thrown in the junkyard. Electronic items emit toxic gases, I read somewhere. I am concerned for the future generations.
The drainages get choked and the chief plumber complains to the overseer. The elderly officer curses under his breath. “They will not learn even when we educate them. They throw everything into the gutter!”. I overhear this exchange as I walk down the by-lane. I cringe! No alternative method has been invented so far, after so many years. Why should women wait for someone to invent a device that disposes waste without a trace? Now women are getting more than equal opportunities to study choice fields. Dr. Savitribai Phule despairs in an interview that nobody comes forward to do research at grass root level! Why don’t educated women come forward to solve this perennial problem?
It is indeed cheering to get disposable bibs, diapers, sanitary napkins, kitchen towels etc. but we have not come up with a device to make them disappear. Street dogs dig them out and tear them in the middle of traffic. It is disgusting! I wouldn’t endorse the cribbing of my fellow elders who say that those days of our time was hunky-dory. We longed for something better, easy and healthier. But we need to go further. We need to turn everything to bio-gas, that may fuel gas turbines that will generate electricity. Some device that will turn everything to proper usage.
A private couple in a remote city are successfully doing this for their own abode. Why can’t builders follow suit? Instead some misogynists are encouraging magazines to write up articles glorifying the old ways of eating, cooking, cleaning etc, with the view to send women back to tending the hearth and grinding flour. They adopt devious ways to promote such writing so that women are tied down to the kitchen. Old earthen pots are being promoted, praising the aroma and extolling the nourishment that they provide. I have experienced that when we were posted in remote areas, these were not very hygienic. We had to buy a new pot very often.
I want to leave behind a cleaner and sustainable atmosphere for the coming generations. I hope the educated women will strive to make the world a better space. I read a story long ago written by a woman in purdah in colonial India, about a woman who was carried off to a different time where women ran the world, making so many wonderful system possible. Will that remain a dream forever?
Image source: Canva
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