Scene: Our “group” comprising the Scientist, the Politico, the Businessman, the Atheist, the Fatalist and the Goof are now comfortably settled down in the porch of the businessman’s palatial guesthouse where they are spending the weekend. The sea is in the background….a rather placid and calm sea. All are drinking tea accompanied by the assorted snacks one generally ingests along with tea.
“Mmmm” it was the politico. He was enjoying his biscuit dipped and drenched in tea. He had had it that way since his early days as a poor political worker when he was known to subsist on just a cup of “Nair” tea and 4 butter biscuits. The businessman flinched, not used to seeing that sort of “yucky thing” to put it in his words. The politico, paying no heed however, polishes off the remaining biscuits…totally unmindful of leaving some for the others. And as he was wont to do, carelessly throws off the plastic wrappers.
“It is because of people like you I must say, that we are living in a highly garbage filled place” began the scientist.
“True. Absolutely true” agreed the businessman. When it came to blaming someone, the businessman almost always agreed with the blamer. It was a trait the politico secretly admired.
“Now you aren’t much better either” said the scientist acidly turning to the businessman who now wore an expression which can be best explained as a mixture of irritation, puzzlement and guilt.
The fatalist, always a man for a discussion, as he calls an ugly, ill-tempered argument jutted in “Now, can you explain that? How do you say that our friend here is equally responsible for the garbage infestation of our place?” he said, pointing to the businessman who by now was having second thoughts about the merits of being a genial host.
“TEA PLEASE” yelled the politico suddenly. The atheist duly fulfilled the demand. His attention then turned to the argument at hand. “Every one of us here is responsible. The garbage we generate is now turning to be massive and quite unmanageable!!” he said.
“Blame it on modernity!!Bah!! The dark underbelly of modern life!! We are all doomed!!” The scientist said a bit vehemently. He then continued “It is all because of the plastics!!They are the bane!! Just where do we throw away that dirty trash called plastic?? It just does not disappear like paper or jute!! It stays implacable! And we add more day by day!! Where do they all GO?” he thundered. The politico just gaped at the scientist’s excited and quivering face blankly.
“Well, Now I see where he comes in” interjected the goof pointing to the businessman. “I was wondering how he could have helped litter the land him always being such a stickler for cleanliness. Now I see the connection” he said.
“What connection?” both the businessman and the fatalist simultaneously asked. The former asked it a bit agitated and the latter with a satisfied smile pleased mainly because that he was fuelling an argument. That he was doing it mainly against his hapless host was an extra bonus.
“Our friend here is a clean chap. He does his business well, Keeps his office premises clean, and makes his employees do the same too.” said the Goof.
The scientist interrupted rudely, eager to put in the point before the goof “But well, WHERE does he dump all the waste he generates?? He keeps his office clean!! Agreed! But after cleaning his office premises, does he care about WHERE the garbage is being sent to? Where it is being dumped? All his plastic wrappers which cover the stale processed food his employees so eagerly eat after a few minutes in the microwave thinking it is good food!! All the wasted food!! All the paper plates and soft drink cans!! Does he ever know what is happening to them??”
The goof, pretty upset that the scientist stole his point of view relapsed into a brooding silence. It wasn’t very often when he came up with something intellectual and to have the scientist steal it from him was all the more frustrating.
“Err…they are sent for recycling. I know they are…The contractor tells me that!!” said the businessman. His comportment however suggested that he had no idea and the fatalist, impeccably infallible in this sort of thing immediately caught his uncertainty.
“Now if the contractor just arranges for all that waste to be dumped into some huge marsh would you know?”
“That is not my responsibility is it? Why should I bother about that? I have outsourced the job of dumping the waste to the contractor and I pay him for it don’t I?” responded the businessman now edgily.
“You pay the contractor not for dumping the wastes but dumping the wastes RESPONSIBLY” yelled the Atheist. He had reached that excited state quite suddenly and all knew it was better not to oppose him when he was in that mood.
“AND, you should not make your employees keep the premises clean alone. You should encourage them to behave in a less ‘littering’ and ‘dumping’ fashion! You UNDERSTAND!!!” the atheist was in his peak now. Even the scientist dared not to cross him. Religious leaders had been known to wilt when he was like that.
“But well, is he supposed to run a business and ensure his employees are happy too or go about advicing them like a Pastor?” the fatalist now took up the businessman’s case. He just loved doing this – fuelling arguments from both sides and creating confusion all the while.
“His employees are educated anyway! So they should know better.” The goof blurted. And he settled back to drink his now cold tea.
“And YET” bawled the scientist, for he so wanted to be the guy who had the attention “those very ‘educated’ employees end up creating so much garbage!! That’s how it will be if each one thinks that just his extra plastic or paper cup won’t make a difference.”
The businessman breathed more easily now. For the blame was now drifting away from his direction to the general public and when that happened, the problem was never going to be solved. For he knew that no one, not even the pretty powerful politico could tell the public that they were wrong and ask them to correct themselves. The public simply ignored such statements and voted him out of power in the next elections if that happened. If the argument went this way, He‘d not be asked to bring about a change in his business policies. Not that he would listen anyway. But now at least he wasn’t being held responsible.
“Ah!! Plastics are a bane!! But how do we stop their use” asked the businessman in an attempt to divert the topic further. And he was good at it too.
“Use Paper!” said the fatalist in a matter-of-fact tone.
“The solution is not so easy!” said the scientist “If we were to stop using plastics, we may need to use lots and lots of paper. And what would that mean?”
“What?” the goof asked. This was now getting a bit too hazy for his limited mental abilities.
“OF COURSE!! It would mean we would denude our remaining paltry forests in triple quick time!!!” the atheist said not feebly.
“Recycle paper then!” put forth the businessman.
“We need to use lots of fuel and electricity to recycle paper you know that?” said the scientist in the tone he used when he was confident about the subject he was talking on.
“It looks like we are going down the drain anyway!! The price we need to pay for our modernity is now hitting us hard so late not very much unlike credit card debts!! There is no turning back eh?” the goof said quickly lest someone else stole his lines. He was happy that he said something intelligent finally.
All of them sat in a rather gloomy silence. The goof had spoken what looked like an uncomfortable truth. And nothing could seemingly be done about it too.
“He” said the scientist pointing to the politico “can be the only person who can save this situation.” The businessman mentally appreciated the ease with which he delegated responsibilities without shouldering them at all.
The politico nodded, eyes closing and opening. He was smiling at them all too. They all seemed to get a ray of hope from seeing him so optimistic.
“You seem to have thought of something?” asked the atheist eagerly. The others were eager too, for it was a very rare occurrence when a politico actually came up with an idea that solved a problem.
The politico nodded faster. And he was smiling wider too. His manner had acquired a new radiance. To the five, he seemed to become the great leader he claimed he was.
“WHAT IS YOUR IDEA? TELL US NOW!!” bellowed the fatalist getting up and moving towards the politico. He couldn’t take the suspense any longer. The businessman was secretly worried that the he might be asked to do something. All the others were waiting with bated breath too. (Each for his own reasons)
“Wait a minute!!!” he politico said to the Fatalist rather a bit loudly.
Then he looked at the others and saw that they were all eagerly looking at him too.
He then methodically proceeded to remove the small black earphones from his ears, folded the wires and bared his palm to reveal the ipod the businessman had presented him and which he used to listen to music during the assembly proceedings. He had grown rather fond of it. He then placed them safely in his shirt pocket.
“You people were discussing something?”