A Rag Picker’s Tale

A look into what/ how cold the human mindset could become w.r.t. fellow beings/ nature!

It was one of the worst ever days in his life. In fact the past few weeks had been getting unbearable, to say the least. Born an orphan in a small village, he was certainly not one of the well known face to this world. He was in fact just a rag-picker, a street dog, leading not the kind of life that any of us would be familiar with!

If you can come to terms with your spirits being dogged down since tender ages (thanks to being homeless), your body complaining and tired (thanks to the daily meal of rotten food) and your mind having no reason to wake up (thanks to being jobless) then probably you’d get close enough to his feelings.

If you were wondering how much more worse this kind of life can get, then you probably hadn’t seen the sandstorm yesterday! At first there was this sudden hot air blowing throughout the village as if the whole place was made to pass through a burning pyre and in a few hours the winds started blowing again. It wasn’t long before the sand-storm broke out. For the next few hours, it blazed as if to hide the sun forever; no surprise for it was a village neighboring the now drought struck city of Chennai – a place known for sunny winters and boiling summers. And what a sight it must have been from within the curtained windows of the lucky few!

Within those few hours the profile of this small village had changed completely! And the fate of a few men like our rag-picker had taken a fatal twist. It’s an altogether different matter that no one cared. He was after all a worthless pile of flesh as far as the perspective of the society was concerned!

He was sweating from head to toe; he had a kind of numbness overtaking his whole body; his mouth thirsted for one drop of water – a commodity that he could never afford to buy in his lifetime; his regular work of rag-picking was completely put to a full stop; his life had come to a standstill.

The storm had indeed broken his spirit (or what was left of it); his face showed clear sign of exhaustion. He had somehow managed to drag his torso to the street, hoping that he would spot someone who would be generous enough to provide a morsel of food or if lucky enough water! He knew it would be in vain. He feared the streets would be deserted. Nowadays almost everyone in the village were hooked on to some terminals earning from their seats; hardly did anyone come out of their home (which isn’t that strange considering the heat during the afternoons).

He passed under the window of one of the house. A drop of water came down from the air conditioner duct and had spilled on the ground. He noticed this and thanked god; almost all the homes in the village had two or three air conditioners. After quenching his thirst he started to feel a bit awkward. He wondered: ‘Probably that wasn’t so safe a drink’. He soon swooned to the ground unable to shout or cry. His throat was beginning to itch. The heat wave was spreading again, as if to announce the worse had not yet passed!

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Author: Rajesh Narayanan

A small speck of dust in the ever expanding ether

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