Conversations on Cleanliness

“Why this broom in your hand today?” Lulu, my parrot asked as he laughed. He was unable to control his laughter. I was standing on the approach road to our housing complex.

“Well, I am on a cleaning drive. Things must be maintained clean and tidy. I am sick of this filth around our houses.” Whenever you start a path breaking, hmmm…., path cleaning journey, people make fun of you. But if you are of a man of resolve you remain firm, I told myself. It makes sure that critics do not succeed.

“Hahaha. You are inspired by our Prime Minister, aren’t you? He started cleaning after his visit to US. He must have seen well maintained cities and public places.”

“You can’t say that; he had announced his ‘Swachch Bharat abhiyan’ even before he went to US. Moreover it is a strongly felt need for our country.”

“So you are going to clean the road around your home?” Lulu gave me a queer look.



“Yes. And I am going to tell the Municipality to cut these Peltoforum trees and plant them elsewhere.”

“Why? We parrots find it a good place to gather.”

“So what? Peltoforum has such tiny leaves. They keep falling. So it becomes quite a job to sweep a heap of them every day. If at all they want trees, they must plant those with big leaves. Cleaning will be easier.”

 “But they bring shade and beautiful yellow flowers. You see a wonderful yellow carpet of flowers once in six months when they bloom.”

“And who enjoys it? A group of dogs! There are so many stray dogs in our housing complex. I guess the stray dog to homely man ratio is one is to two! Thanks to Maneka Gandhi.”

“Stray dog to homely man ratio? Wow! These are days of analytics!! Oh, you are so harsh on Maneka. She has saved lives of so many dogs and cattle.”

“And I am happy that her son Varun is not going to be a Minster anywhere. If he becomes one, I am afraid he too will imitate his illustrious mother and launch ‘save Cockroaches’ movement.’”

“Haha haha. I don’t know but I guess Maneka may be afraid of cockroaches, so the resistance will come from home.”

“And like they do a fifteen minute meeting before start of the day in Japanese style in every office and factory, everybody must be asked to do cleaning for first fifteen minutes of his day.” I have always found this fifteen minute start-of-the-day meeting very useful. I intend to have one with my darling wife every day!!

“That’s a good idea those ‘fifteen minute start-of-the-day meetings.’ Actually that is what I always hear your wife say – don’t throw your used towel on the bed when you are getting ready to go to office, don’t leave your shoes under the sofa when you remove them after returning from work. A dozen appeals very day. And she shouts angrily “you will never improve.””

“Hahahaha. She is very fussy about cleanliness. If she sees a speck of dirt, if things are not in order, it annoys her. Well, she is the Prime Minister of this home.”

“So chances are that the Prime Minister’s ‘Swachch Bharat’ will beget the same response. Nothing will change unless you change your outlook towards your responsibilities, people, trees and animals.” Lulu said as he prepared to fly out.

Vivek Patwardhan
"What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others."

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