Thursday, February 02, 2012
Even stagnation passes
All things must pass. Even stagnation passes. I walked up the hill from my apartment in Rishikesh, towards the mountains and the more distant concrete and brick houses. The road was torn up and broken, as a newer drainage and sewage system was being put in, a covered one that would take sewage to a treatment plant and people would not be able to add their trash to the open gutters that now served as drainage.
Labourers were sitting on their haunches looking at the various pits, some lined with gravel and earth, others with running water and pipes at the bottom. A couple of them were working hard to dig and move piles of gravel manually, shovelful by shovelful. Usually the water drains down the hills along the street in open gutters. The water has a tremendous force as it sends downhill all kinds of debris, consisting of leaves, branches, twigs, tetrapaks, plastic and paper. But even the force of the water cannot clear away a blockage of the modern things if they refuse to get soaked and rot. Stagnant pools form, like small dams all along the road, usually where the gutter narrows, or where there is a grill for the purpose of straining out the big stuff and the debris creates temporary barriers and the water then sits, and seeps through very slowly, and often, just flows over and onto the road and creates new pathways.
Often men and women clear the blockages in front of their house with a stick or rod, but they do it by sending the debris further down the gutter, rather than take it out, unconcerned that this creates a problem a few meters downhill. And so the solid matter forms another plug. Today as I was walking, I saw a young woman clearing the waterway only to have it accumulate two meters down. I asked her in my broken Hindi, using my leverage as an elder, why she was doing it this way. She giggled, and looked at me sheepishly. I took a stick and started removing the second pile and throwing it over the side onto some uncultivated land near a small waterfall, where the organic debris would at least decompose. The water flowed better for the moment. I thought of all the uncleared stagnant water on this hill, both natural and manmade. I suppose, unattended, all stagnant things eventually clear with a little help from someone or from decomposition. Sometimes that eventuality can take a very long time.
If that time does not come, then the life force just finds another path.
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