Lesson 80: Anju and the Stream

Anju loved the merry little stream
Rippling and flowing like a blue-green dream!
Fish leapt and danced in its waters clear,
To fish for fish, came birds – from far and near…
Every day Anju walked this way from school,
In April’s heat and October’s cool.
Sometimes wide, sometimes lean,
Her dear stream always ran sparkling clean.

But one hot summer, the stream fell sick,
Weaker and thinner, while weeds grew thick…
Where clear waters once flowed, refreshing to drink,
Were smelly puddles and pools, dark as ink.

When Anju came by, everything was wrong!
Not a squirrel’s chatter, not even a birdsong…
Her stream had vanished! The fish were gone!
Only an old crow sat around, her face forlorn.
“What’s happened to dear stream?” Anju cried.
“Why does it stink, why’s it all dried?”
The crow looked at Anju, scratched her beak,
Coughed twice, and began to speak…

“Alas! There’s a new factory upstream.
It belches black smoke and dirty steam.
It came in your summer holidays
And now, it refuses to go away!”

“Each day, the factory workers toil
Making soap and shampoo from vegetable oil!
The factory gulps down stream’s waters cool
And throws out filth – Oh! Isn’t that cruel?”

“But if dirtying clear stream is a shame,
You village folk must share the blame!
You pump away stream’s water for your use…
But your drains bring back loads of refuse!”

“That’s why poor stream has shrivelled and shrunk,
That’s why its waters can no longer be drunk,
That’s why the fish no longer swim here
That’s why the birds fled…Help, Anju, dear!”

Anju ran home and told the sad tale
To all the villagers, who turned quite pale.
“Our stream’s dirty?” cried the elders.
“Going dry? Oh my! We must save it! We really must try!
“Soap won’t clean up stream’s water,
Shampoo will not bring its fish back,
There’s only one thing to do – ah yes!
We must ask the factory to clean up this mess!”

The villagers marched up to the factory,
Met the owner and cried “Shame on you!”
It’s so sad that our dear stream’s waters blue
Are dirtied by you for soap and shampoo!”
The factory owner’s face turned small and sad,
“I’m sorry!” he sobbed. “I feel very bad!
I’ll return dear stream to its merry, clean state,
I promise I’ll do it at an early date!”
“We’ll help you!” replied the elders,
“For, in fact We villagers too need to clean up our act!
Many villagers work here – your wages are fair,
So we too have a role in this affair!”

“We need soap and shampoo, that’s for sure!
But we must make sure our stream stays pure.
So let’s put together all our brains
And find ways to clean up our awful drains!”
So the factory owner cleaned up his act
(He was really a nice man!)
The villagers, too, worked hard to make sure
That their wastes didn’t make stream’s water impure.
Together they worked out a nice new scheme
To manage with less water from the stream.
They saved water and reused it where they could.
And that did dear stream a lot of good!

And because they all did what they said they would do,
Dear stream flows as before – smiling, sparkling blue…
Its fish dart about, the birds sing clear and true.
It’s nature’s way of saying “THANK YOU, ANJU!”

(Adapted from: Anju and the Stream
R.P. Subramanian, Tamal Basu
The Energy and Resources Group, New Delhi, 2004)

A) Discussion Points

1. In the beginning of the poem, what is it that made Anju very happy?
2. What are the adjectives used to describe the stream, when it was clean and when it became dirty?
3. What made the stream dirty?
4. Do you know about the Yamuna river? Please research where it starts from, and trace its course down to Delhi.
5. Talk about the causes of pollution in the river Yamuna.
6. Talk about the other major rivers of India.
7. Write a short poem about your walk to school every day.
What do you see and hear? How do you feel?