By Nobel P. Loser
I am not angry, dear Mother. There is not a trace of irritation in my voice or in my pen. But my inner voice keeps whispering unanswerable questions into my ears. I am perfectly aware that a lifetime is too short a time for any human being to really know, understand, or even find and have time to stop and notice and love all the beautiful things or the beauty in all things that stand in our surroundings. I will be honest with you all the way even if I know that when I will finish I will still remain unsatisfied.
One day, during my school days, I came across a man who said he had the chance to see the Earth from above. His description of this blue planet was breathtaking. And his advice to us was to protect this most beautiful thing.
Again, and since time immemorial may be, but time after time as we can recollect, writers, artists, lyricists, poets, novelists, singers, people from here and everywhere, from all continents, have had the chance to write about your magnificence; to describe the overwhelming power of your beauty; to talk about your splendour at length; to paint you in all shades and colours preferably at sunset or sunrise. Others offer prayers to you. Of course, writers and singers and artists must have spent sleepless days and nights, attempting to grasp the essence of your inner being, sometimes until the strange feeling of indescribable joy starts flowing into their minds. Mountains and rivers, lands and oceans, sun and moon and everything each one of them contains and represents, has inspired them all to narrate the intrinsic part of your life in words that still inspire kids and kings and man all around the world. I can admit that I don’t have that capacity to paint your splendorous qualities.
The State House or Clarisse House, standing in Le Reduit and Vacoas respectively, owe their beauty not so much to the engineering prowess of their architects but largely to their natural green surroundings. Such is the power of Mother Nature. It can give life and meaning to the most inexpressive designs of Man.
We will climb on top of Signal Mountain or Pieter Both; watching the panorama all around makes nobody unhappy; in fact, one is always thrilled by the exceptional beauty of the landscape viewed from that height. The air we breathe over there and which runs from land to ocean or from ocean to land or when it simply keeps whipping our body with reasonable force is an experience of deep and unique physical sensation.
We go out for picnics on riverbanks or in green gardens or on beaches and enjoy the serene atmosphere prevailing in these environments. When it is all over, we feel grateful to you for enwrapping us in your sweetness.
Very early morning or evening time when we are out, catching a glimpse of the “rising sun” or “setting sun”, waves of inexpressible happiness overwhelm our thoughts and being.
When travelling, we catch glimpses of natural scenes extending far away across green fields and landscapes to the great delight of our eyes. Our minds and souls whisper words of peace and joy as we travel. Beauty, the old wisdom says, is itself medicine.
And then there are the oceans, extending from one extreme to the other; washing all coastal areas at all times, nights and days; at high tides running slightly on land across the shore; at low tides receding calmly into the ocean. Pleasure boating, swimming, cruising and fishing bring moments of intense joy and happiness shared by all sea and ocean lovers.
But one thing needs to be confessed. We have to plead guilty! Yes, my dear Mother, we have individually and collectively acted irresponsibly in many ways and at many times in nearly all parts of the world. To put it mildly, we have not been that nice towards you. Business and money, greed and recklessness, are part of the things that contributed immensely to promote regardless selfishness; in the process, we failed to stop and take notice of the potential dangers looming ahead as we kept doing more of those senseless things that harm you. You have been abundantly generous towards us; yet, despite all the abundance your generosity has showered on lands and oceans, we have not hesitated to inflict irreversible damage upon your gifts to mankind in the pursuit of our own selfish economic dreams and ambitions. And yes! Many of those ills are not natural; they are man-made.
Yet and after this confession, dear Mother, some recent events have been sending us tremors of shock. We have in mind the past week’s natural events in Japan. You may wish to explain why such catastrophic damage has been wrought in the land of the rising sun although it is true that other places have equally well been hit by natural phenomena in recent past. The answer is simple. This is a high tech country that makes it easier to relay news and information. And as far as possible, many Japanese have tried to capture the images of your exceptional manifestation – from arrival time to working time and after. From the air, on top of roofs and hills, on the roads, in shops and offices, you name it, they captured as much of the unfurling gigantic catastrophe as time rendered it possible to do. And then there was the TV and satellite TV to broadcast the images captured to different places on earth, and repeat the same for days. This intense reporting of what took place in Japan was not the same when you visited other places not in your usual magnificent garb but showed rather your destructive force, throwing those other places into equal disarray.
So when Japan hit the media limelight, it gave every person on Earth having access to TV broadcasts the chance to witness the event within a short space of time. The scenes of the earthquake and accompanying tsunami and all the destruction they made tell only one story, dear Mother – your undeniable might and the unfathomable energy you can unleash, wreaking havoc on a mind-boggling scale as it was seen after you receded back into the ocean.
The second story that emerged is this. The earthquake and tsunami have not only shaken the structures found on the ground; they have deeply shaken peoples’ minds in disbelief at what they saw when they woke up to the reality but still, dear Mother, and you won’t believe it, they have been unable to shake peoples’ faith in you. They will pray the Sun again; they will put their trust in you again; they will sing their hope in you and keep stating their helplessness in the face of your often-unpredictable behaviour. They know as well that you will be good to them again. They will need rain; they will need the sun; they will need the air and so on to rebuild their hopes in life.
The unanswerable questions my inner voice whispered in my ears on witnessing these terrific scenes, dear Mother, relate to your power to cause mass destruction to peoples’ lives and trivialize their most prized belongings and attachments. But then there are these words and the wisdom they contain – in reality, nothing belongs to us; not even our lives we pretend to own.
Huge catastrophes like the ones in Japan remind us of our forefathers’ warnings to us. They enumerated three – all “possessions” will be left behind; never play with water; never play with fire.
The scenes of the past week will go a long way if they help us reflect deeply on our behaviour and help us follow a better course to make amends for our careless attitudes towards you, dear Mother. I pray you accept our apologies.
* Published in print edition on 25 March 2011