Difference Is Not 'Uncool'
Difference Is Not 'Uncool'
Sudha was the odd one out as she held a pot of plant within her palms among her classmates boasting their self-made robots, programs, and devices.
The school in which Sudha studied was celebrating Technology Day. Every student was asked to engender something to celebrate the contribution of technology in making human life more comfortable. The event was announced three weeks previously. Hardly had the headmaster completed the words “Technology Day” when the students engaged in gushing and murmuring about innovative notions of various technological devices. Amidst the crowd of young minds, only Sudha’s mind did not click like the others. She wanted to do something different and unique. She pondered upon how her object of the exhibition could convey a strong message. That this ‘unique’ object would become an absurd item of ridicule and laughter, she had never imagined.
Sudha had always been mesmerized by the beauty of nature. While other students found exhilaration in front of screens, she discovered bliss and tranquility amidst the mellifluous lullabies of birds, the soft rattling of rain against the window, and the serene atmosphere radiated by trees. She realized that the advent of technology had not only driven mankind away from the lap of nature but had also been a destructive weapon against it.
With laughter and mockery reverberating in her eardrums, she could not stop her eyes from swelling up with tears. Just as she was about to break down, it occurred to her why she had chosen to bring a plant. She could have easily built a small robot and bragged about her engineering skills as well. However, she had a message to deliver, and she was not going to relinquish before accomplishing that. She walked through the corridors with her head bowed down in chagrin, but her mind was too resolute to surrender. Thousands of students lined up in the auditorium. The audience brimmed with teachers and parents. Names were called out alphabetically and in chronological order of grade. One after another, students climbed up to the podium and orated his/her approach to creating the object being displayed and how beholden he/she is to technology. Eventually, Sudha’s turn arrived. She could feel her heart throbbing against her ribs. An indistinct chatter hovered in the air as people reacted to her bringing a pot of plant, but the myriad gasps were deafened by the nervous pounding of her heart.
With trembling legs and hands, she managed to center herself on the podium and placed the plant on the ground. Adjusting the microphone, she let out a sigh and spoke, “Good morning, to one and all present here. I realize how ironic and hysterical it is of me to have the guts to present a plant on a day that literally is antonymous to nature, but that is exactly why I am presenting a plant. Technology is repulsive to nature, and in a way, to us as well. When was the last time you took a stroll in a park? When was the last time you went hiking not for posting in social media but for the thrill of it? I am certain that most of you do not remember. Since the emergence of technology, all of us have been so detached from the world around us. Not only have we lost contact with nature but also with ourselves. We often forget that most of the technological devices we utilize today have been primarily based on natural processes. The root of everything grows in nature. We celebrate World Environment day but we need to be compelled to plant saplings whereas it should have been a personal practice. Technology can only sustain us temporarily but nature is our permanent haven. Our days are numbered; nature is responding to our boycott of her. Maybe it is ‘uncool’ of me to bring a plant on this occasion, but we would not exist if not for plants like this.”
As she caught her breath after this long oration, pin-drop silence floated across the auditorium for a few seconds, followed by a resonant round of applause. Not a single member of the audience was on his/her seat. They could not resist a standing ovation as a gesture of approbation.
We do not have to follow the road which everyone else does. We do not need to align ourselves with unrealistic standards. Sometimes, being the odd one out is what it takes to bring about change, even if it is initially welcomed with humiliation and ridicule. We were never meant to fit in. Fitting in is plain sailing, but saying “no” when everyone else says “yes” requires courage and faith.