"Somebody help me, Save me, save me. Plllease!" Megan was screaming hysterically. There was no one to help her. She was drowning and so were a thousand others. She was an expert swimmer, but the raging waves were no match for her. Finally when she could no longer fight the giant waves, she gave up and let the foam of the salty water hug her. She could feel her lungs exploding. One last attempt she thought. She began to desperately swim, waving her legs and hands in a desperate measure to stay afloat. "Thud", a slap on her face from her mom brought her back into this world from her dream.
Megan was barely 18, studying in the twelfth grade, in the most prestigious college of the city. She was cool, a fashion freak, good in studies, in short an all rounder. She was also the proud owner of a Scooty Pep. The advantage of having a two wheeler, she thought was it permitted her to wake up at 8:30, bindaas. Press the start button and zoom past everyone directly to the parking lot of the college. Cool Na!!! But not today? The dream was troubling her. She told it to her friends who just shrugged it off. "Forget it yaar, I don’t remember my dreams" declared Jasmine. Ryan, the cool dude of the group laughed at Megan "I dream only about Angelina Jolie yaar, and now a days she is too busy with her pregnancy, to meet me in my dreams". With such wonderful friends around, Megan forgot the dream. The week went by nicely.
"Save me, save me, somebody help". Megan was screaming. She was sweating profusely. The temperature around her was increasing steadily. She was engulfed by the fiery flames. She ran to her window to get two deep breathes. Everyone around her too was burning. When the fire was too hot to handle she jumped out of her window. When she woke up she was not on her bed, but on the floor and everything seemed all right, except that she was soaking wet. "Bad dream" she thought.
But when similar dreams recurred within a week, she knew there was something serious behind these dreams. She was too preoccupied in her thoughts. She could not even go to college. Megan was scared because in both her dreams she was dying and she did not want to die. Her granny used to tell her that dreams occurring early in the morning often came true. She was sweating again. "The weather here is so bad, it’s become hotter than last year". She tried to rubbish her dreams as nothing but nightmares.
She wanted to tell her mom everything. After all Moms are supposed to be a girl’s best friend. No she decided to wait. She did not want to disturb the already disturbed mind of her mom.
There was firing going on. She could not see who the gunmen were, but people were succumbing to their bullets. The bullets were coming from the skies above. The gunmen were hiding behind the clouds and had drilled holes through the clouds to aim at the people below. Megan did not know what to do. She ran for cover. But there was no cover of any sort. One bullet hit her temple and two exploded into her heart. That was the end. Before she could shout "Help", she had collapsed.
…We are late, but we still have time. If we act a bit responsibly from now on….
This dream had badly shaken Megan. She was engrossed in her thoughts and more on her dreams. She wanted badly for someone to explain her dreams to her. "Oh God. Why don’t you send Joseph." But Joseph was long gone. She decided to find something about her relating dreams. All the three dreams had a common ending. People were dying in huge numbers. It was some kind of mass destruction. The internet was not of much help. She badly wanted to get out her thoughts. What better way than the idiot box? On her route to MTV, she stumbled upon National Geographic channel, where a documentary on the Tsunami was going on. She stopped. Her first dream. Was there any connection? But the second and third were a bit different. She let her intelligent brain do some hectic reasoning and after 5 to 10 minutes of logics, science, and reality, she finally came to a conclusion "My God is it this serious." She had finally found the connection to her dreams. It could not be wrong. She decided she had to do something about it and soon.
Next day, the three friends met in the canteen. Ryan, Jasmine were listening to Megan explain her dreams to them. The usual flamboyant Ryan looked like a wet crow. Jasmine was shocked beyond expression. Maybe Megan was exaggerating, but the topic needed all their attention and more. After ten minutes of silence finally Ryan exclaimed "Is Global Warming this serious Megan?" "Looks so Ryan, Even I used to think like you, but these dreams really changed my opinion". Jasmine chipped in "True yaar, Look at her dreams. First the sea. The sea levels are rising for the past many years, due to polar ice meltdown. Second Fire. The mercury levels are also increasing in all major cities. No surprise if they turn to flames one day. The third gunshots, my god. UV rays from the depleted ozone holes are worse than bullets, something has to be done". "What can we do, sitting in the canteen eating Goli baje HUH"? "I have got a plan Guys, to save Mother Earth" Megan was beaming.
"Tell me your plan madam," Ryan was restless. "We will spread awareness. We will educate people on this." "Oh, I was expecting some daredevil act like putting lids on long chimneys of these smoke puffing factories or??," "Shut up Ryan", Ryan was cut short by Jasmine even before he could complete his line. "Sounds good Megan. Let’s do it." They decided to take sessions on weekends.
Ryan’s dad, who was an industrialist and an environmentalist, arranged the young enthusiasts to have their first session at the Country club. The elite of the city would be coming. All three were nervous and scared. This would be their first session of this kind and they were nervous. The audience would be industrialists, businessmen, government officials of the highest order etc etc. After a brief introduction of the three, Megan began, "I had a dream (she explained all her dreams). Finally she asked "Is there a connection among the dreams?? What do you people think?" There was no one in the audience who could make a connection. The audience was interested. "Tel Me dear, What’s on your mind."
"Sir, It’s nothing but Global Warming." "WHAT???" exclaimed the man.
"Yes, Global Warming. Global warming is a phenomenon which increases the temperature of the earth’s surface air and oceans. The increased temperature melts the polar ice which in turn increases the sea level. Most of the coastal cities like Mumbai, New York, etc are likely to be submerged in the coming years. The main reason behind this phenomenon is Carbon dioxide and methane from industries, vehicles, burninig fossil fuels. After the Industrial revolution in the 17th century, this phenomenon is said to have gained momentum."
The three friends had decided the session to be interactive. They wanted the audience to have the same feeling as they did. "What will happen if the sea level increases by 2 or 3 cms? Will it make a huge difference? Only the shoreline will come a little forward. What’s the big deal?" asked the prominent chemical factory owner. The question caught Ryan right in the throat. He decided to take it head on. Furious he replied "Uncle, you have lived your life. Are we, youth not entitled to live our life full term. Do you want your grandchildren to die drowning?" Uncle was quiet, probably taken by surprise by the passion in Ryan’s voice. Ryan’s dad and the uncle were good friends. "Our future generation also has all the rights to lead a normal full term. Why should they suffer for our sins?"
"What are our sins?" Uncle could not resist.
"Of course uncle, the smoke from factories, vehicles all contributes to the warming. Moreover Industrialists don’t follow international rules and regulations which they ought to follow."
"My factory follows it Ryan and so does your dad’s. India is the least polluted compared to other countries. We have even been awarded for this by international organizations."
Sensing this was going personal, Ryan played it safe "I always wanted to cut the chimney of my dad’s factory. But after I heard about the award, I changed my mind. After all he is my only source of income." The atmosphere became a little lighter.
Jasmine took over the conversation forward "How many cars do you have Uncle?"
"Oh dear, I have lots, tell me how they affect this warming?"
"Uncle it’s really serious. Vehicles are the major contributors to the warming process and moreover to the city’s traffic woes. Vehicles waiting in traffic jams contribute more actually. In fact, all three of us have stopped using our two wheelers. We use public transport nowadays. Only when necessary we take them out. I think the government must ban private vehicles inside city limits. In our country it will be very difficult to implement. Even the public may find it very difficult. After all it hurts our ego to commute in government transport doesn’t it? But isn’t it worth it? I prefer dying peacefully in my late eighties, rather than drowning when I am only 28. Moreover, if the sea level increases suddenly, I will be the first one to see St. Peter since I stay close to the sea. I don’t swim. The only way I swim is downwards."
"Ok ok. What are we supposed to do now"?
Megan replied "We are late, but we still have time. If we act a bit responsibly from now on, we can hope to extend our mother’s age and ours too".
"There are Three R’s, Reduce, Recycle and?. I forgot the other R. Never mind. There is internet. I will give it to you as homework. Find out what the other R is. We have to reduce the use of Plastic and encourage the recycling processes. There is no harm in using recycled items. Industries should take a leaf out of IT companies. They try to reduce papers. Employers are asked to reduce printing. Of course, paper is kept in the lavatories! Employees are asked to use company busses. Monitors are switched off after the days work. This really saves a lot of energy. When the computer is left to hibernate it consumes power. It seems some 100 hours of such energy saved can be used to light a bulb in a remote village in India."
Ryan’s dad who was highly impressed by the three youngsters, chirped in "Energy conservation should be essentially done. Renewable sources should be used like solar heaters, wind energy etc etc. Electric cars, CFL can be used. CFL uses only one third of the energy a conventional bulb uses. Actually I am planning to set up tidal energy generation plant. It is too expensive I heard"
"Oh dad. Good thinking, but please write some part of your property to me before you invest in that," Ryan was in his usual mood.
Ryan continued "I think Al Gore is the only man, of course after my dad, who is bothered. He deserves the Nobel prize he got. One more thing, we have to plant more trees. As Max Hitchin says" The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best is now." I remember the Vanamahotsava celebrated in many clubs. Some 20 or 25 cars come to a sudden halt near a park. Well dressed men and women get out of their cars, and all pose to the cameras with the same poor plant. The poor plant dies well before its roots touch the mud."
All were quiet now. All were touched. Uncle was the first one to applaud. "Kids I am deeply touched. I will keep this session in the bottom of my heart."
Ryan snapped back "Uncle that means, we are at the bottom huh. Many more things will be above us". "No son. I am planning to cycle to my office tomorrow." Ryan’s dad who was close behind patted him on the back "I am going with him too, pillion u see"
There was a good laugh over this.
This was Megan’s dream, but isn’t it our reality? Are we courageous enough to take steps which the three friends took? Why all of us are a bit reluctant to speak on this topic? We are not supposed to relax anymore. The situation has well crossed over our nose now. Someone has to take charge, take control or else this beautiful Earth will be like Mars. Sir William Devenant says "A calamity is a perfect mirror wherein we truly see and know ourselves." The recent calamities, earthquakes in China, volcanoes in Japan, Tsunami in 2005, should have given us a strong signal to mend our ways. But we are still continuing our old awful ways. Is it the right thing to do? Maybe my generation can pass through without many difficulties. But what about our kids and their kids? Give it a serious thought. It deserves all the attention from us. Let’s make it a better place or at least keep it as it is for our kids.
Author: Anil DSouza- Halealve- Kundapur