Is Responsibility Meant to be Only in a Few Hands?

As I sit helpless and frustrated in a pool of tears, I cannot wonder why we as a race are not responsible! Why is responsibility palmed off so easily even when we have the power to set things right?

I had been eyeing my unusually dirty buckets for the past two days and making a note to tell the cleaner to clean it while doing a temporary cleaning act after my bath. As is common place with me these days, the minute I exit a room, I forget about it because each new room I enter has a whole list of things waiting to be sorted. So it took me two days before I got the cleaner to clean all the buckets and mugs which is a huge decision for me due to the water shortage we face. After those were made sparkly, my husband observes that the water is dirty and I realize it wasn’t the buckets but the water. While flowing from the taps, water didn’t look muddy but indeed it was!

So, early next morning the man who made the observation was sent up to check the condition of the tank which he said was caked with mud. Immediately, the tank cleaner was called and it was fixed that he would turn up a few hours before water would be pumped up (for those who have never been affected by water shortage I would like you to know that you are blessed and hope you never face this situation- we get water for an hour a day for two days and on the third day there is no water. We have a tank and if used judiciously we can barely manage without a problem for a family of four) and clean out the tanks so that we’d be without water for the minimum time. Water shortage is rampant in so many places and if we suffer so much, think of the poor.

Well, the two cleaners came after I nagged them continuously and finally they went up after asking me to drain out all the water. This I did after filling everything that I could possibly fill. When taps stopped running I felt uncomfortable but calmed myself down. After all, what needs to be done must be done! An hour later, the two cleaners come and tell me that the job was complete. Something about their expression brought with it a doubt so I told them I’d pay them after the water started coming which was less than two hours later. One fellow said everything was fine except that the ball valve should be changed if it gave trouble in the future but was fine as of now. I smelt a rat.

I told him to get the plumber and come immediately, so he gave me the guarantee that he would personally get it done if I had a problem and that he would turn up when the water came. He begged me to pay him half the amount at least and much against my will, I did. He didn’t turn up.

At sharp five, I sent my daughter upstairs to see if the water was filling in. It was. The bell rang shortly after and revealed an old man “Madam, aapka tanki beh raha hai. Bahut paani ja raha hai” (Madam, your tank is overflowing and a lot of water is getting wasted). I panicked. It had been twenty minutes since the water had come by then and there was not a drop coming into the house and here this man was saying that the tank was overflowing! I sent my dear daughter again (it is a family trait I have inherited from my parents – to get into a frenzy if water is less) and she said the man was right. In between my domestic help turned up and I got all taps opened. Dark muddy water started trickling in at first and then in full force. Soon, it was replaced by clean water and I got the help to wash the utensils while trying frantically to get this cleaner to come in with a plumber. He kept giving me stupid answers and then refused point blank! After a long long time, I actually shouted at someone for his callousness that was wasting so much of clean water. I climbed up next and tried my best to at least shut water from getting into the tank, but all I did was to get drenched for all those rusted iron taps were jammed.

I then called the security and got them to send me the emergency plumber from somewhere and they did. He was the same guy who had turned up a day prior to fix a leaking tap, and told me he’d return in ten minutes with the equipment but hadn’t shown his face since then. He came and told me that those fellows had broken the ball valve (I found that out for myself) so I asked him to get one immediately and get to work. He said there was no point since the tank was overflowing. The water level had to go below a minimum point before he could do anything. So, off he went telling me with a sheepish grin, that he would come the following day. Incidentally, when I had earlier asked the cleaner to call this guy, they told me he was on leave for a wedding and the other one the society had, had been kicked out. (Fibs both!)

I came inside and cried hot tears of frustration. Irritated that I couldn’t fix it myself and guilty that I had wasted so much water. To make matters worse, the washing machine wouldn’t move after having dirtied and dampened the clothes with enough muddy water- an air lock had decided to complete my day and see if I could practice equanimity that I so often preach. I suck at it, I realize.

We blame people in positions of power, that they are corrupt and don’t do their jobs but do we? If that old man (God Bless him) could turn up to let me know that there was an overflowing tank, could that youngster not tell me the actual damage he had done and rectified the mistake? I am bugged with myself for taking the easier path and believing that man, when my gut feeling told me that something was amiss. If I had climbed up then and there without giving him the benefit of doubt, I would have discovered the ball valve he had hidden behind my tank.

Disappointed I am, with myself and everyone else. We are not ready to progress or save the Earth. We are all just hoping things will sort themselves out or at least the calamities waiting to happen, will bypass us. We have all somewhere adopted the “Chalta hai” attitude which means “making do” kind of blasé attitude. My father’s words come to my mind “Don’t follow the path of least resistance…”


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