Flying Mask

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    Description: The story of a little girl Saguna and her mother’s initiative to protect their village.

    It was a pleasant morning, Saguna was leaning out of the window of her house in a small town of Basti in Uttar Pradesh. As she stood there feeding the birds, she looked at the empty roads outside because of the COVID pandemic lockdown. Just then a strong wind blew and Saguna saw something flying in the air from a distance.

    “Is it a kite?” thought Saguna. As it came closer, she saw that it was a mask. Saguna was curious to know where the mask came from. She started running behind the mask. Chasing the mask, she reached close to a small pond and saw the mask falling into the water.

    As Saguna looked around she saw many masks and gloves strewn all over the pond. She was saddened to see the filthy sight of the pond and its surroundings.

    Saguna decided that she was going to clean the mess and started picking up the plastic packets, masks, gloves, cigarette butts, and other wastage around the pond. However, she wondered how to clean the filth spread in the pond water. As she looked around, she found a long bamboo stick. Saguna used the stick to bring the mask and other things close to the shore of the pond.

    Once they were close enough, she picked them up and collected them along with other items. Soon a huge heap of garbage was formed beside the pond. As she sat there thinking how to dispose-of the filth, she heard a sound from the pond. She was shocked to see a turtle struggling to swim and crying in pain as if calling for help. Since the turtle was quite close to the shore, Saguna, at once stepped into the knee-deep water and tried pulling the turtle out of the water. 

    The turtle barely had any energy left in him to swim on its own. Slowly and taking care not to slip herself or lose the grip of the turtle, Saguna managed to bring the turtle out of the water. She used her wet frock to clean the mud on the turtle’s body. She started crying when she saw a lot of masks and plastic packets choking the mouth of the turtle.

    She did not know what to do but then without wasting any further time, she gathered courage and put her hand inside the turtle’s mouth. Saguna started pulling out whatever she could get hold of and was thrilled to find that the turtle was feeling relieved as things started coming out of its mouth. Poor thing choked on its neck and stopped crying as soon as the last item came out of its neck. She was so happy of relieving the turtle of its pain that she jumped with joy and tears rolling down her little cheeks.

    Saguna picked up the turtle in her little hands and walked to the shore of the pond to put it back into the water. The turtle appeared to be so thankful that it was reluctant to go back into the pond. Going by the experience of what the turtle went through in the pond, Saguna was also not very keen to put it back but she thought that poor thing had to return to its home anyways. A home that we humans made hell for the creature to live in. Just then she saw a man dumping garbage from a huge bin into the pond. Putting down the turtle on the shore, she almost snatched the bin from the man’s hands and shouted “Enough is enough! Stop it. Will you ever dump this garbage in your own house? Then why make the house of pond creatures a hell?”

     The man felt very sorry for his actions. Realising what he has been doing ignorantly for many years, he called a few people from the town to clean the pond free of all garbage.

    Saguna was thrilled to see this outcome of her efforts. She was satisfied to see that the turtle also quietly moved into the water and hopefully will stay happier and safer. That day she had a lot to tell her mother and so she rushed home and was excited to narrate the entire story to her. Her mother, who was really worried when Saguna was late in returning home, asked her to change her wet clothes first and have something to eat before narrating the story.

    Hearing the story, the mother exclaimed “I am so proud of you Saguna dear. If everyone around starts doing things like you did today, our society will become a much better place to live in.” One thing that was still bothering Saguna is what if the pond becomes dirty again? “What if people don’t care about turtles or other creatures living in the pond and make the pond dirty again? she asked her mother. “What should we do then?” expressing her concern.

    After pondering for a while, her mother asked Saguna to accompany her to the market. They bought a few big dust bins and wooden boards, green and white paint and brushes. Reaching home, the mother asked Saguna to paint the boards green and write on them with white “If you can keep your house clean, why not keep the house of others also clean? Put waste in the bins only. Pond is for aquatic beings to live in.” Then they took the boards and bins to the pond and placed them around it.

    After about a month or so, Saguna and her mother went to visit the pond. It was much cleaner than before; they were very happy to see that their efforts worked. Both of them hugged each other and people living close to the pond applauded them for saving the pond and restoring it to its original clean and healthy condition.

    About the illustrator

    Aadhya Ganesh is a student that is passionate about taking action to protect the environment, using art and music as a medium to connect people to nature. She loves to play and teach piano and she aspires to become a veterinarian. 

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