The Dual Life Of The Environmentalist
Written by Nandini Sethi
As much as I hate to admit it, my next-door neighbour is the Rahul Kapoor! The next new thing in the film industry, he has millions of young fans, mostly teenage girls, lined up outside the building complex, to get a snap or signature from him.
I won’t deny that he’s got the looks, but apart from that, there’s nothing special about him. In fact, he can get really annoying with his loud music at abnormal hours and constant littering! I have complained about 10 times to the building authorities to warn him to put a limit on the amount of plastic he keeps throwing around all over, but there has been no cooperation.
Today, as I was leaving to get to work in the morning, I came across a little kitten, tearing into a piece of plastic, struggling to swallow the hazardous item. I looked around, to locate the culprit, and sure enough, he was standing at the entrance of the parking lot, phone in hand and cigarette in his mouth. Fuming and on the edge, I walked toward him, stomping my feet and all, but he must have not heard me because I saw him flick his cigarette, leaving it lying on the ground when there was a trash bin just a step away.
I tapped his shoulder, rather harshly, “excuse me? What do you think you are doing?”
He looked at, irritation obvious in his expression, “What do you want now?”
“You leave plastic around for innocent animals to nibble and choke on! Do you not care about the environment? The planet?” I retorted.
He scoffed, “listen woman, I have no time for any of that,” he fixed his tie, “now if you’ll excuse me, I have a shoot to attend.”
I was seething in anger. Not only did he lack awareness but also basic human decency.
I complained to the authorities and went online to look up any laws he may have broken while littering – since he was a celebrity, he was all the more answerable for his actions to the public. I made it my mission to change him and his ways.
I bought a dozen houseplants and placed it at his door. The next day I found him standing, cluelessly, at the entrance of his house, wondering what to do with all the pots and leaves. He looked up to see me wave and smile sarcastically.
The day after that I printed out a poster, I support climate change, and stuck it on his door. Within hours, WhatsApp groups and other chats were flooding with neighbours’ disbelief and outrage over such a bold statement from their favourite actor and neighbour. When I heard the haste swinging open of door, I went out to see him scrambling to to take of the poster. Once again, I smiled and waved, watching him grit his teeth. It was 30 minutes later he was forced to apologise on all the chats for the misunderstandings.
I didn’t let it go. I did other things, petty things I will admit, but I had faith. I had faith in humanity. I knew what goes round comes round, so I decided to wait it out and let nature run its course.
That was until this afternoon. I bumped into him in the parking lot again, smoking his cigarette, staring into his phone.
I nodded and smiled at him, acknowledging my presence, but all he did was try to walk away. I stopped him in his tracks, hoping to incite a reaction, maybe even indulge in some friendly banter since I thought I had changed him for the better and he had learnt his lesson.
“Move out of the way, I have a very important shoot that I am late for”, he said.
“Woah, look at you, pretending to be busy,” I joked. “What kind of shoot is it?”
He smiled, albeit a little evilly, and said, “You’re going to love this one,” before nudging my shoulder and walking away.
Later in the day, as I was eating my lunch, I got a rude awakening. I opened Instagram to find irony laughing right at my face, mocking me for ever believing in social media or in the kindest of celebrities or any of that.
The first post that popped up on my feed was none other than Mr. Rahul Kapoor, holding a little houseplant in his hand, and a banner in the other, reading now or never! Do your bit for the environment. A little looking up and light research told me he was the new face of the city’s largest NGO, advocating cleaning up of beaches and anti-littering drives for a better world. They proudly showcased the handsome man, patting themselves on the back for working with a young, famous, good-looking environmentalist who they believed would take the first step in saving the planet.
Once again, I was fuming.
I got home later than usual that evening, parked my car, and chose to walk up the stairs instead of taking the lift. There, standing at his door, which now seemed way too close to mine, he smiled at me mockingly and waved as enthusiastically as he could.
For now, I guess he had won.