Time for Nature- World Environment Day 2020

Dr. Alka Jain
Dr. Alka Jain

As I surfed the UNEP website in the quest for environmental news, events and happenings all over the world, I caught glimpses of the beautiful theme for Environment Day, 2020- “Time for Nature”. My imagination and instinct inform me that no one but a poet could have come up with such a beautiful expression! Ever since the grand arrival of Covid-19, I have comforted the vagabond within, shelved extensive travel plans and crumpled leave applications. The poet within kept defying me, resisting my censures and constraints like a stubborn child hovering around his mother for permission to go out and play.

And to make matters worse, Google Photos continues to spring up images from the past, collages and frames of beautiful places nestled in the lap of nature- green, serene and inviting! I realise as I sit at my desk adorning a light- blue surgical mask that we have made a mess of our lives. Living in cement and glass structures, engaging our diligent fingers in mobile and laptop keyboards, drinking freshly-  brewed coffee out of latest coffee making machines before a giant LED screen, we are missing out on the sights of the wet earthy manna, the smell of raw mud as it receives the rain – petrichor! That’s the perfect word!

Our deft hands would have done wonders to the soft rose and lily buds yawning lazily as they look up to the gracious, gentle, grandfatherly skies- waiting for a beautiful folksy story to tumble down in a cascade and daze them. The sunflower stalk, six feet tall, with dinner-plate-sized flowers shaking merrily to win over the sun, ruins all my chances of making it turn towards my bedroom window on the opposite side! The grass, green and lush, a little overgrown in the monsoons, appears to be in a rhythmic concert as it soaks in the music in the air- like tiny drops of falling water.  The cool winds defying the stern poise of the cotton drapes at the window, sneak past them to seek a rendezvous with me. Imagine dear friends, what a poor soul confined within the four walls during the COVID lockdown must be experiencing, upon being exposed day and night to the glory and grandiose of Mother Earth.

When the UNEP says that this year’s (2020) theme for World Environment Day is “Time for Nature” I call out assertively, “every year, every moment of human life is meant to be time for nature!” Rather the concept of time too is bewildering …. Isn’t time a gift of nature to human beings? Then, who gives time to whom? What if nature forgets to gift our time? What have we managed to do to our environment, that we need to be cajoled to spare time for it?  

The edifice called ‘Environment,’ proudly handed over to us lies in shambles. We must be the only species recognised for cutting off with an axe that very tree upon which we have made our nests! Destroying our ecology, damaging our vast biological diversity, choking our waterbeds, annihilating the forests…. All in a crazy rush for advancement. The vast amount of e-waste generated all over the world is a huge ecological mistake! Each day I realise that we are sitting on timebombs in the shape of lithium batteries and other hazardous chemical substances pushed into the oesophagus of the land beneath our feet, waiting to explode and cause havoc any day.  We are a wonderful species, instead of keeping the earth alive by all means, we wish to first smother it and then aim for a resuscitation. Will Environment give us so much time?

How can we homo- sapiens forget that we were born as a part of nature’s plan, so it has to be nature’s plan till the end. It decides the ‘time’ for each species to appear, survive and perish.  The time that we have is borrowed.  The more we desist from repaying our loans, the tighter will be the clasp of the lender. Be a defaulter and there we go…..The nurturer gave us several warnings. Saved us from earthquakes, signalled through Tsunamis, took strict actions through floods and landslides…. From carrot to stick, it tried everything to tame the wild human.

I am surprised at our persistent demand for vaccines to fight coronavirus! For infecting us, killing us, and sweeping us away! What if this deadly virus is nature’s vaccine designed to sweep out the virus called ‘man’? That man is afraid and already whispering about such a possibility, is apparent, but he is not the one to accept defeat.  He wants to have his say till the end.

What he forgets is that the clock is ticking constantly, time is swishing past us at great speed, matching our expertise and swiftness at clogging the rivers with filth. In reality, we have just one planet to live in and instead of looking out for newer and unspoilt options, we must preserve what we have from perishing and becoming our grave.

All our experiments, researches in science, and studies in artificial intelligence fail to provide an alternative to the environment thereby hinting strongly that our rush against the flow of the universe and its laws will be detrimental. Preserving nature and minimising self-inflicted damages are the only options we have. While the scientific fraternity is trying to establish existing truths, the poets and writers are writing incessantly on nature not just to show off what they have seen, but because they are connected to nature and see life reflected in it in its entirety. While scientists and researchers “ work” on the environment, the art fraternity and nature lovers are constantly in “ talk” with it. Be it a morning walk, or the sunny afternoon siesta-  nature stops by to talk about its thriving world. Once upon a time. 

The writer is a poet, and has composed several Youtube videos to celebrate nature and create awareness on environmental topics through the power of her pen. The latest poem is on “Time for Nature”.   Do follow the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fuRdM9X9uQ


Dr Alka Jain (Asst. Prof., English),

Rani Lakshmi Bai Central Agricultural University, Jhansi

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