Post Event Write-up by Swathy Sridharan
CTC’s Content Writers Team
At the stroke of dawn on a chilly January morning, around 30 of us assembled at the tea shop near Anna Library. Many of us were thankful to CTC for letting us enjoy an early morning ride through the misty city.
By 6 am, the number of volunteers swelled to around 50 and we reached the shores of Adyar river adjoining Surya Nagar. The regular volunteers dropped off the collection bags and gloves and so enthusiastically got down the shores to collect the garbage. Most of these people were known faces around Surya Nagar and were working from the first clean-up. To eager eyes from the houses of Surya Nagar, it was unfathomable how these youngsters at heart could so happily pick up their garbage. The volunteers had all internalized that it would take many more such clean-ups to restore some semblance of cleanliness to these filthy shores. Did this deter them in any way? It seemed rather that this motivated them.
With time, we had people like Ahamed cracking jokes about the “Kuppai collection job” while guys like Raja, Mallika and Mohan standing on the bunds running around catching the bags and numerous bottles we were throwing from down the shores. It was an eye-opener that no one bossed anyone around or ‘supervised’ the work. There was no ‘first timer’, ‘regular CTCian club’ or ‘gang formation’. Everyone was the leader and everyone belonged to the only group that was literally bent on making those shores shine.
As the clock ticked closer to 7, we had kids from the neighbouring houses getting out of their cosy slumber to don the gloves. They joked with our CTCians, picked out long abandoned toys from the garbage piles and posed for pictures with an untainted glee.
We even had some of the elders join us to clean the same shores that they had for so long used as make shift dump yards.
None of us realized that it was closer to our pack up time until Sinthu announced it was 7.15 amalready and we had only 15 more minutes to finish up. This seemed to start a wave of intense work to finish cleaning the chosen area.
By the time we all came up regretting that all the ‘fun’ ended already, few locals provided us with water to wash up.
It was then that it became clear that most volunteers were gearing up for their rewards. A small pack of cookies with a bottle of water seemed to be all that these guys wanted for the mountain of dirt that they had strove to dig out.
But, a bunch of CTCians were spotted bent over something, digging furiously and tirelessly and boy! Was it a sight to watch them trying to pull out the faded remnants of a Saree! The mud won them over in the game of tug of war, yet these guys vowed to get back to it in the next cleanup!
We all wished for a happy long weekend and with warm smile from our hearts and parted ways to celebrate the joy! The gentle breeze that touched us from the river seemed like a silent smile from Her!
What did we manage to do you ask? It is not about how many tonnes of garbage we collected; it is not if we had managed to make a heaven out of a slum; it is that we are slowly sowing the seeds of hope among the people of Surya Nagar!
Come help us nurture it to grow beautiful trees of happiness and joy! There is no reason why these people cannot have landscaped backyards and access to dirt free environments like the rest of us! Let us be the beacons of hope that herald in a better future and bring light into ‘Surya’ Nagar.