Stagnant water is a common sight all over our country.
I love my evening walk. But even more, I love connecting with my friends in the colony during the walk. My friends are: Vijay the Sabziwala, who is stationed near our colony gate; Vinod Tailor, who operates out of one of the garages given to him by a flat owner; Thapa the Guard who informs us of new rules and regulations periodically; Raju the Breadwala who pushes his cart twice a day given to him by the bread company. The not so good friends, but still on my walk circuit are the Anand Store, our daily needs store and Shyam Sabziwala who has modelled his store on the lines of the Mother Dairy Safal outlets, and Food Basket another daily needs store which is giving competition to the Anand Store but is more of a super mart. The last one is our pharmacy, interestingly named Giftland, though they don’t sell any gifts. Between these three stores and the pharmacy, more than a dozen delivery boys are hired for home delivery.
Ingenuity out of necessity?!
To meet all my above friends, I must weave in and out of the Colony which is a gated complex of about 600 flats. There are about 9 colony gates but in view of security reasons, some remain locked while others are manned by security guards and boom barriers. So on my walk one day I was walking near one of the Colony gates when I smelt a smell. I stopped to sniff and sure enough there was the smell of burning paper. A tiny waft of smoke was emerging from a tiny bundle of twisted cardboard placed near the guard’s chair. He told me it was to keep mosquitoes away. An ingenious way indeed!!
Which brings us back to the title: Is anyone Immune from mosquito bites and these dreaded diseases which incapacitate persons from days to weeks and may have long term effects.
We are flooded with advisories on how to keep our homes and surroundings clean and free of any stagnant or fresh water collection, but we all know how unclean our surroundings are. There are heaps of garbage all around, and I am sure it’s the same from Kashmir to Kanyakumari! Nothing has changed except the hype! We also get constant information from social groups or sites on the most vulnerable early morning hours and how to prevent mosquito bites by wearing full sleeves and full leg covering.
The Delivery Boys and Other Folk and their humble abode
All my friends and the delivery boys in my neighbourhood I have named above are not living in the best of circumstances. Most have makeshift homes or homes in slums or the street is their home. Vijay is living in one of the urban villages close by but his brother the Fruit vendor sleeps on the roadside. During the day too, starting from as early as 4 am, they are mostly outdoors or in semi open areas. Guards are given 12 hour shifts and the delivery boys too start work early as the respective stores open. All of them use jugadu methods to keep mosquitoes, flies and other dangerous insects at bay. Every other day we hear of one of them falling sick.
We send our children with protective wrist bands to play and keep our homes and colonies clean and yet many of us catch one or the other of the viral diseases.
Who will protect Raju, Vijay, Thapa and Vinod and countless other vendors, delivery boys, guards and domestic help from our man made problems and diseases: garbage on the roadside, clogged drains outside colonies, stagnant water in craters, the list is endless. Perhaps they are the most vulnerable to these fevers and not immune to them as we imagine.
I could only wish that the civic agencies do their assigned jobs and not work overtime to repair / rectify / hurriedly clean clogged drains and put up notices on prevention after avoidable havoc and apathy.
Can we at least learn from our neighbor Sri Lanka who has declared itself free of Malaria (today’s news report)??
And life…should not go on like this as some mistakes are too costly…