Today, the activist label is beginning to have a bad meaning. Anyone who sees something wrong and decides to right that wrong is labelled an activist and dealt with severely, which inspired me to write about this suburb somewhere in Mumbai, where locals get up early so they can take a walk in the park. Some walk to lower their blood sugar, some their blood pressure, some because their spouses have told them they’ve put on weight, and some to stare and gaze at others who have come to stare and gaze at them.

All went well, till the monsoons came. For with the rains, at one particular spot, actually, the best spot in the park, earthworms tried to crawl across the path the people walked on, and it was no nice sight to see them lying all over, squashed, sometimes half dead, oftimes dead, their attempts to get to the other side, foiled by a cruel boot or callous shoe.

The walkers complained. They grumbled. They discussed why the mali did not clean the place. The mali said it was not his job, and nothing was done and everyday dozens of poor little worms were killed.

One day, a walker decided to do something. He broke a small branch from a tree nearby and before the others walked, he swept the little fellows out of the way for a few days.

The earthworms looked at him with appreciative eyes. The people with mixed feelings.

“It is my job,” cried the mali, “is he trying to get me unemployed?”

“He cut a piece off a tree,” said the watchman sternly, “Cutting trees is illegal!”

“We are going to arrest him!” said the chairman of the park, “We have reason to believe he did this exercise to overthrow our committee, and later hit me with the branch he cut!”

The police came at dawn and arrested the man, and took him away, but some good people in the park, went to court and got the man out, “But let him stay at home, till the police prove he was trying to usurp the committee and injure the chairman!” said the court. 

And in the park, snakes, and other dreaded creatures laughed as they continued biting the people, and killing the earthworms, but the chairman of the park, when shown the bites and injuries, said, “It doesn’t matter, we have caught the main culprit!”

And the snakes and other harmful creatures continue their evil, as the worms get trampled again, and as the poor man, now called an activist, sits at home awaiting his judgement..!

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