By Piyushi Dhir
Part of the 'Baby Diaries' series
As I was mentioning in my last post, our exciting journey across Africa ended in the polluted air of Delhi. Even as we landed, I couldn’t help but notice the glaring contrast between the smog-filled air I was seeing around myself and the lush greenery I had just left behind in my adopted country, Ivory Coast. Visibility was so low; one could barely see anything more than a few metres away.
Unfortunately, it was during my fortnight’s stay in India’s capital that the city’s pollution rose steeply. While Delhi already holds a bad reputation when it comes to toxic air, the situation worsened considerably owing to the burning of crops in nearby states at that time. We woke up one morning to see the smog was so bad, it was inside the house! The government called off schools, initially for younger children and then later, for all students as well as staff.
Doctors were recommending that people remain indoors and refrain from exercising. But we were in India for a reason. We were there because Papa’s sister was getting married. There was so much to be done; preparations to be made, venues to be visited, shopping to be done and of course, the functions to be attended.
My parents installed an air purifier in our room, but they couldn’t always keep me in. Especially with the various members of our joint family spread around the house. I would sometime be watching the fish in my younger grandfather’s room on the first floor and sometimes be running away with my great-grandmother’s walking stick on the ground floor. Within a few days, my throat started feeling scratchy and I developed a dry cough. Mum too had a sore throat and fever.
The wedding went off well and we returned to Ivory Coast. But I came back with congestion and an ear infection. I was on antibiotics for eight days and barely recovered from the severe ear pain, before my cough worsened. Clearly, the effects of Delhi’s impure air are going to last for a few weeks even after leaving its atmosphere. At least, I got to leave the place. I wonder about all those children, younger and older than me, who live there day after day, year after year.
I wonder how their parents feel when they hear their children wracked by coughs. I wonder if they think about leaving the city. I wonder why everyone talks about the problem, but no one does anything about it. I wonder why everyone is waiting for the government. Can the government alone do anything while the people continue to drive multiple cars, burn crops, build fires and light crackers?
Do I wonder too much? Or do you wonder too?
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Piyushi Dhir is the author of 'In Search of Love', 'I'm Yours, The Next Time', 'Silent Promises' and 'Enmeshed Evermore'. She is a contributor in 'Nineteen Tales of COVID-19', a collection of short stories. A voracious reader, a keen traveler, a businesswoman and a mom, Piyushi currently resides in Canada. A nomad at heart, she loves to discover new places and capture the hues of life with her pen.