Growing up in Lucknow was an easy life. You could walk (safely and healthily) from your house to your friend’s place, a good five to six kilometers, without as much as a scare to your well-being.
The city's civil society was also pretty active on all scenes; figuring out stands on unity, secularism or any kind of political will to bring about a positive change, felt almost an integral part of our social fabric.
But the last few years have not been easy; for any city. And yet when that city is your hometown it feels worse.
Last week when I was in Lucknow for a school reunion event, a short walk from my house to the grocery store filled my lungs with a characteristic burning smell. Coupled with this, watching young school kids with masks on their faces presented a rather disturbing dystopian picture.
It is one thing to read in the news that your hometown is now one of the most polluted cities in the world and another to experience it firsthand.
I had just come back home from my walk when the news of 64000 trees being cut to pave way for the Defence Expo, exploded on media. To imagine that these children who held masks to their faces will now get a much worse future, shook me. But I kept quiet. Faith in the city’s civil society held me back from speaking anything. I believed there would be a massive outcry but I was wrong. There was literally none. Petitions started on the issue raised about 150 – 200 signatures on an average. And while my Facebook timeline was lit with pictures of marriages and kids, none so on the act of murder that the cutting of these trees really was.
I kept quiet even more.
But a bunch of school mates on a WhatsApp group raised an alarm. And I would be lying if I said that didn’t push me. I decided that no matter how small, I must be at the helm of it in my own small way.
A few messages to friends from social media and industry resulted in some updates- a letter is being written to Chief Justice of India (similar to Aarey movement), a few journalists have said they would carry citizens voices in mainstream and I for one had decided this can be something to speak about.
No matter how toothless my efforts, Lucknow is still very much part of my veins and I cannot let it burn into ashes as it may be.
As I write this last sentence I wish I could say I am hopeful of change. That I believe there is a civil society residing inside the walls of this historic town who might pressurize the government into not doing this, but then I also know we have come a long way from taking things in our own hands.
If you are from Lucknow help me build a movement around it. Tell me what we should do and I will help as much as I can. If you are not from Lucknow, then please lend us your support, God knows we all need it today.
Picture Credit: Unsplash