Time to notice

It happened when I was on my usual walk to the park in the morning. The old and decrepit signboard that I passed by everyday had something new to show. Until now, the rusting tin-sheet perched between two rickety posts had just one word ‘notice’ visible on it.

The rest had been obliterated by weather and wind. Today below it, in bold chalk, was copied the same word, “notice’. It was probably just an idle scribble, but, for me, it now seemed to possess a wealth of meaning. What I saw and read was no less than a message for our moments.

While the first ‘notice’ was intended to draw attention to some rules now forgotten, the second seemed imbued with an altogether different significance. It was a clear call to look around, to notice things and to reflect upon them. How much, I mused as I walked along, do we really see and observe?

A sudden impulse made me sit on a bench and gaze around. A sense of wonder took hold of me. That solitary word had stirred memories, reminded me of simple joys. It had uncovered what in the hurly-burly of mechanical living I had lost sight of but nevertheless hungered for.

No longer were the trees mere woody outgrowths; they were sentinels of Nature, every one of them, nurturers of shade, growth and endless bounty. Once more the screech of parakeets, the mellifluous call of the bulbul and the chatter of mynahs entered my ears, making music sweeter than human voice and hands can. Against emerald grass sparkled multi-hued flowers, stars of the green earth. I looked, I saw and was conquered and all because of a subtle shift in perspective.

The strident notes of a Bollywood item number broke my reverie. A man was jogging at a smart pace in tune with the music. He looked neither left nor right. I resumed my walk, overtaking a gaggle of women exchanging notes on mundane matters. They were blissfully blind to the beauty around them. I was almost at the exit when I caught sight of a couple plucking newly- opened flowers. Unable to contain myself, I walked up to them and told them politely to stop doing it. They looked at me fiercely and said, ‘Do you own the park?’ No one came forward in support and I retreated.

Do I own the park? Yes, I do and so does everyone else. In fact, this planet, our only one, is a park that belongs to all of us. But, as I had seen a little earlier, few have the time, care or the respect for it.

We use its resources as if it were an inexhaustible reservoir and leave behind more and more carbon footprints. This green earth, this earthly Eden cries for attention. Simply put, notice Nature or Nature will serve notice on us.

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