The people in our society would always prefer the white-collared jobs .But they can hardly lead a comfortable and smooth life, without rag pickers.
Sameer is a rag picker. With his huge bag hanging down his shoulder, he searches for his fortune in the dump yard. Everyday at eight o, clock ,you can see him at this spot from your 2BHKbalcony, collecting garbage in search of recyclable items . These are sold to the scrap –merchants and Sameer fills his pocket with the meagre sum .Thus he earns his daily bread.
His work is dirty but he enjoys his work. . Dressed in mussed – up clothes ,he stinks and climbs up the heap where we throw the waste materials. It does not require any skill. It is only a source of earning for the poor, the people migrating to cities in search of work.
Earlier, Sameer’s mother used to come to this area and she searched in the street-bins. She also visited residential areas, but now she is suffering from a fatal disease. Sameer’s father was a peripatetic buyer. He bought scraps directly from households, shops or offices and did not have to search in the garbage like his son. He had managed to hoard a certain amount with which he could purchase scrap. He ,however, was not independent. He used to work for middlemen or contractors and sold rags which he had set apart from the garbage. The rate was always decided earlier.
Life had become a little bit easier for him but destiny played its role .He met with an accident and left this world for ever. Now Sameer the eldest one, has to look after all his siblings. As a dump picker ,he lives with his family but he has many friends who are street- pickers. Poverty has led them to eat the filthy food remnants from the garbage and this is a threat to their life.
Governments, in some places ,show their concern by issuing identity cards and offering them a limited health insurance plan .But Sameer lives in a State where the poor like him, would look forward to grabbing the golden opportunity, never to be offerred to them. At the time of election, the people who travel in big cars ,always promise special favours to these folks, but as soon as the election is over, they forget their promises. But this time it seemed to be a little bit different. They are trying to dismantle the age-old corruption .However ,it is not as much easy as that; you just press the button and ,hey presto ,a perfect corruption-free package, ready to be served at your doorstep. Never! But Sameer is totally ignorant about all this. He knows only about the bumpy grounds of the wasteland where he may find a pair of shoes without straps. He imagines the broad smile on the face of his only sister .He prays he could find something precious for the other two small kids too, who eagerly wait for his return. He walks through the cosy lanes which lead to the main roads. He does not visit the street -bins as he knows that the garbage would be collected by the lorries equipped with a device to dump in and he is also not tall enough to take out the things which are inside the bins.
Rags ,generally, relate to torn pieces of clothes. But the rag-pickers like Sameer are always in quest of plastic bags or thermoplastics used for packaging. These plastic bags are very hazardous for the environment. Mostly these are eaten by the cows which is a health-hazard for them. So Sameer tries to find out as many of them as he can. He would get a little bit more money if he could sell them to the shops which sell the scraps.
Even if we know the importance of these rag-pickers in our life,how many of us can extend our hands to help them?Are we ready to give them a better life or are we concerned about their spoilt childhood?
The question is yet to be answered.