Happy Hand (and Soul) Washing Day!

Today is World Hand Washing Day. Hand washing with soap is said to be the vaccine that prevents infections by rinsing away the germs of many physical diseases, thus saving many a lives. But what about the dirt which is too strong to be cleansed away with ordinary soap? - the grime of the slap it (the hand) gave to an innocent child; the sting of pushing aside others to move ahead; the smudge of someone’s tears which it could not wipe; the stink of public money which it unabashedly siphoned off. Can we wash all this away too and resolve not to tarnish our hands again with them. It is time to give our souls a spirited rinse. The fragrant balm of love, piety, respect and honesty will spruce up our mental health by wiping off the filth of hatred, contempt, anger and insensitivity which has infiltrated the marrows of our entire being. Happy hand (and soul) washing day! May we all remain healthy in body and mind.

(Shobha Shukla, shobha@citizen-news.org)

Thank you Mr President for a bump-less ride...

Yesterday President Pranab Mukherjee graced Lucknow with his visit which was laced with irritating restrictions on traffic movement on roads that crisscrossed his path. But it was a pleasant as well as a sad surprise to find a few speed bumps (or rumble strips) and pot holes perform the vanishing act overnight to give His Excellency a smooth ride sparing him even the occasional kick. My car habitually came to groaning slowdowns at expected hurdles but perked up immediately on finding none. This was the pleasant part. The sad part was that the hurdles would return in a few days. This had happened earlier too on the visit of the former President Pratibha Patil when the agonizing speed breakers on the University road had miraculously disappeared in a similar fashion.

It is only the road of lesser mortals like you and me that is full of pot holes and stumbling blocks--the powers- that- be always have a smooth drive on road and in life’s journey too—scams or no scams. Our rulers are like the famous princess who was hurt by the pea’s prick. They need to be protected from all discomforts as they scheme and plan to make the common citizens’ lives as uncomfortable and bumpy as possible—increase prices in the name of economic development, ignore violence against women for fear of losing their vote bank and hound innocent citizens in the garb of protecting national integrity.

But we are not ungrateful for small mercies. Thank you Mr President for a bump less ride, albeit for a day or two, on the few roads which were privileged to kiss the wheels of your car! Next time please bless our impossible- to- navigate by lanes with your gracious presence.

(Shobha Shukla, shobha@citizen-news.org)