Brinda Runghsawmee

A lady who had travelled a certain distance and had now arrived at ‘la gare du nord’ was looking for a toilet. A conductor showed her the way. She was apprehensive. She was expecting a dirty place. Her apprehension turned out to be true. A fly was kissing faeces in a non-flushed, modern two-piece elongated toilet with a right-hand lever and the urine was floating on the stagnant water! Yes, the toilet was disgusting as it was a public one! However, in our homes, from the pit latrine of our forefathers to the one-piece wall-hung toilet of our smartphone generation, the toilet has always been and still is a spotlessly clean and hygienic place because it is PRIVATE, it is OURS!

The same afternoon, after the toilet incident, the lady was waiting for the return bus. The sun was burning down on her skin. She found some shade behind the bus shelter. There she encountered the foul smell of urine. She moved to the front and braved the heat rather than bear the fetid smell. That made her think, “we should have public urinals at every street corner for males because when there is an urgent need, they relieve themselves anywhere and sometimes the best place is behind a bus shelter!”

From private to public, there is the gap of selfishness: pa pou mwa sa, pou zot sa!

We forget that zot is you and I and you and I are also us and them. This is why our public toilets have always been dirty and will continue to be UNLESS we revolutionise our mindsets!!!

Another lady was walking on the Sodnac running track and chatting with her walking partner. Suddenly the conversation stopped. She bent down and started picking up blue plastic bottle caps belonging to careless runners and walkers. While waiting for her bottlecap picker friend, the walking partner thought:

“Shame on us Mauritians, why is this lady who is Mauritian by marriage, so concerned about picking up our shame and caring for our future generations and upholding our dignity?”

Their walk was always interrupted by the rounds of picking up of plastic bottle caps. The lady did it because her mindset was like ruby and unselfishness was her habit.

Flowers decorate our gardens, windowsills and yards but amidst wild nature, on our roadsides and in our canals and rivers, we litter with our plastic bottles and food wrappers. In addition, when we do our big yard cleaning, when our bins are full, we stealthily throw our extra garbage on the other side of the road. It looks OK to dirty our neighbour’s front gate!

Mauritius is beautiful, but it hurts terribly inside when we spot heaps of rubbish on pavements, roadsides, river banks and beaches, in canals, sugar cane fields, open spaces and buses. THIS CULTURE OF SHAME HAS NOT CHANGED! WHEN WILL IT CHANGE?

 Carry our litter with us and throw it in bins, don’t litter public places, buses and nature! Let our bags be litterbags, carry them home and throw them in our bins when we don’t find bins outside. In this way, we will keep our country clean. Keep our public toilets clean too! Have some consideration for the people who have to clean them. They have to look down at our faeces and urine the whole day!

Harass us with incessant daily campaigns on public and private radios, on TV, in newspapers about how to keep our country clean! Educate our children too!

We conclude with two interesting points from the bottlecap picker lady who loves to keep Mauritius clean. As the government has put in place refuse collection, why not use this service rather than pollute our country? Recently employees of Rogers had an after-office hours plogging run when they collected litter left unashamedly by passers-by in Port Louis. Whilst we salute this initiative – again why do others have to pick up our rubbish?