The house I grew up was just a street away from the busiest center in our small town. But our street was quite busy as well because of the wall in front of our house, which is a well-known de-facto public urinal for the entire downtown. At any given time of the day I could see not less than four people lined up making abstract drawings on the wall. I used to call them Pablo Peecassos. It was as if the wall had special powers to precipitate nature’s call in passers-by. I had a suspicion that some people woke up and travelled half way across the town to use the wall every morning.
As one can imagine, we hated the wall, even though the wall did provide some entertainment. For example, one day our street was invaded by monkeys. A gentleman doing his business on the wall suddenly looked up to realize that a monkey was sitting on the wall and curiously summing up his frontal glory. He had a dilemma of epic proportions. Should he continue to finish his business and risk being bitten by the monkey or stop half way and run. Alas, the cruel irony of life. He did stop half way and run, AND got bitten by the monkey.
The moments of such mirth aside, one can safely assume that we didn’t want people to answer their nature’s call in front of our house. We did the normal thing one with no experience in such matters would do. We put up a big sign, “NO PEEING ON THE WALL.” Our biggest mistake? Putting the sign low enough on the wall so that people could actually use the sign for target practice. Secondly, the sign reminded people of the existence of their bladder. Without having to delve into specific statistical models, we could figure out that the traffic at the wall nearly doubled after posting the sign.
The second brilliant idea we had was to appoint two guys to walk about on our street and yell at the happy relievers. “Hey, you got no sense of decency? Shoo, shoo” was their general mantra. This seemed to have worked on the first day. But the second day there was a revolt. People of our town, who never stood together for anything, were united to protect their right of public indecency. Our appointed henchmen barely escaped being beaten by the mob.
A few days later one of my uncles improvised a solution with the use of household flour and sugar. In phase 1 of the plan, we generously sprinkled the mixture along the opposite wall. Phase 2 of the plan was carried out by thousands of red ants that took to streets to feast on the flour and sugar. People, in the rush to lighten their bladders, pissed off the ants literally and figuratively. The ants absolutely refused to coexist with such people by snacking on their feet. Phase 3 of the plan was watching the delightful dance of people whose feet were being munched on by the ants, albeit they could only use one hand in their dance. Our delight and free dance performances didn’t last too long because it rained that night. Also, we couldn’t have afforded the daily feeding of ants.
We gave up. We did everything humanly possible to persuade people to deposit their waste in their respective bathrooms. We failed. It was time for divine intervention. It was my dad who came up with the most ingenious idea.
Two people were busy working at the wall the entire weekend. Come Monday, the wall featured frescos of smiling Gods of various religions and denominations. Every inch of the wall was covered in colorful pictures of benevolent deities – A Rama, A Christ, An undefined splatter of colors with a crescent on the top which one can only assume as the artist’s rendition of Mecca and other minor religious icons just to be sure.
That was it. From that day forward not one person dared to descecrate the sancutm sanctorum of our town walls. I was in my hometown a month ago. The paintings faded and were retouched over the years. I was happy to walk on our street that reeked of holiness rather than urine.