City Life – Winter Pollution, Everywhere in Delhi
Mother, daughter and smog.
[By Mayank Austen Soofi]
This smoggy morning, the throat is wheezy, the eyes are burning, and the head is throbbing to a very mild mysterious ache. Engineering graduate Paridhi Narayan Singh (left) is standing with her “mumma”, Payal, by the drawing room windows of their 6th floor apartment in Delhi-NCR. Her father just left for his office. The mother, also a career professional, works from home on certain days of the week. Both mother and daughter talk of how their lives are being shaped by the winter pollution. Excerpts.
Daughter: “Extreme pollution has become a season. And like all seasons, we must prepare to adjust with it.”
Mother: “All three of us suffer from some allergy or the other because of this pollution.”
Daughter: “Mumma and I walk together every night after our dinner. That is our thing. Doesn’t matter how tired or stressed or busy we are. It’s the only time we get to connect with each other and unwind. But the pollution has defeated the purpose of our nightly walks, our excursions have become less of relaxation and more of suffocation.”
Mother: “I have forgotten how kohra, the fog, used to be like. I remember the winters of my childhood when kohra would settle down around our house, in the park, along the street… the world looked so dreamy and misty, and the air smelled of pure thandak. Now, kohra has been replaced by smog, and we only smell smoke and dust.”
Daughter: “I started to run daily in June. It was a most difficult discipline to build. I eventually touched 3km +. I also bought new running shoes, without realising that I would not be able to run outside for the next few months. Perhaps I should have invested in a new air purifier for our new house.”
Mother: “When my daughter was about to complete her school a few years back, my husband and I seriously considered encouraging her to move to southern India for higher studies, just because of the pollution.”
Daughter: “Some weeks ago, not long after shifting to our new home, I was standing by the windows, watching the sun go down behind the new high-rise that is coming up across the road from our (residential) society. At some point I wondered if this could be the last clear sunset for this year. So I tried to savour the moments to the full. And I was right. Today it is all grey.”
Mother: “There is so much poison in the air. Everyone is ending up with some illness or the other. In times like these, I wonder if the new generation will grow more anxious to bring their children to this world.”