[ultimate_heading main_heading=”Short Story by Rajeswari Suriasetty – Issue.XXIV : January 2017″ main_heading_color=”#1e73be” sub_heading_color=”#8224e3″ spacer=”line_with_icon” spacer_position=”bottom” line_style=”dotted” line_height=”1″ line_color=”#1e73be” icon_type=”custom” icon_img=”id^48|url^http://ashvamegh.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Ashvamegh-ICO.jpg|caption^null|alt^Ashvamegh Journal Icon|title^Ashvamegh ICO|description^null” img_width=”48″ main_heading_style=”font-weight:bold;” main_heading_font_size=”desktop:34px;” line_width=”3″]new kind of story…[/ultimate_heading]

I am a Rag Picker but the Winner

About the Author: 

Rajeswari Surisetty has complete MA in English Literature and PGDCS from GITAM University. She has been teaching for the last ten years and at present working at Sri Mittapalli College of Engineering, Tummalapalem, Guntur, as an assistant professor. She has been published in many journals and has started writing short stories for primary students.

“Aye, Tyagi.. getup! It was already dawn. If your father comes, he will thrash you” my mother was yelling to wake me up alarmingly.

I had to get up from the bed at last, in respond to her constant pleadings. Sooner I opened my eyes than I found her ready with a cup of gruel in her hands. It signalled me to get ready and jump into my filthy work.

“We are after all rag pickers, rag-pickers, rag-pickers….” these non- sensual words ringing into my ears since I had a conversation with Bijili,Chotu, and Velu last afternoon.

I don’t know why do my friends think that we are only meant for rag-picking? Why couldn’t I wish to go to school?  Like Munni and Sonu, our playmates on Sunday evenings.

My mother told me that, her father Somanathan was able to read news paper sometimes, he tried even to read out something from the piece of waste papers that he had collected from dump yards.

My mother desired to send me to local Government school but my drunkard father, who was irresponsible, a man named for his ignorance but pretended to be well known of everything declared that our both ends would not meet if I was sent to school. She had to be agonized now and then with his incorrigible behaviour towards us. She had to bear it as she was helpless mother but loyal wife.

I completed my mundane activities, gulped the cup of gruel and picked my big sack which is largely enough for my age and height. Sometimes I feel myself funny to carry it. I rushed on to the road. After walking nearly for four miles from my home I found a dumpster with loads of trash to the right side of the road. I felt happy of its sight , it would be enough for my day getting turned to be earning little money. Though the Sun was high, I had to bounce into it, digging approximately for two hours I could pick up many useful things which were dumped as useless by people. Whenever I start my work, I cover my nose and mouth with hanky to prevent the poisonous chemical smell and sickly air which absolutely release from the garbage. I am strictly instructed my mother to do this.

I successfully bagged some crushed papers, broken plastic objects, dilapidated wooden stuff etc. I started going towards Saheb’s shop where all our rag pickers have to dump our collection for making money. He is immoral and wry mouthed. He deliberately deceives my father who relays on his craftiness in the name of discretion. He pays as much as less by showing wittiness.

I saw Vidya didi walking towards me before I reached the shop. I was surprised to see her. She is sincere and committed to her work. Though she possessed higher degrees, she bound to strive for educating un orderly guys like me, helpless women and even old people in the neither town nor rural areas. I usually go to Vidya didi in the evenings without my father’s notice. She puts great efforts to teach me numbers and few calculations related to my work. I am always fond of didi’s bag which was red in colour stuffs with few papers, charts and colour pencils. She always has a beautiful smile on her face which inculcates hope even in a desperate person. Whenever I dishearten by my indelicate work as far as I concern, she says to me” You are the winner and conqueror of your dreams, Your work is not completely rag-picking it is just a means for your survival”. These words always infuse courage into my body and soul. Didi almost reached me. I greeted her with a smile.“Why didn’t you come to my home yesterday, Tyagi? She questioned me inquiringly.

“I was away from the town with my father  , didi”. I replied her humbly.

‘Don’t bother, come in the evening”. She convincingly said to me. I took leave from her and resumed to Saheb’s shop. I was almost fatigued by the tedious walk to reach there. To my dismay, I found my father who was loyal to Saheb was falling out with him for his inaccurate mendacious accountancy. I was wondered to see my father shouting at the top of his voice which gathered our fellow workers there. They were trying to soothe my father and pleading him to calm down. But he was in his heights of anger that suddenly burst out of Saheb’s deception for him.

By the gist of their argument I tried to understand that my father was paid only eleven hundred and fifty rupees per three kilograms of scrap metal which he could collect by dint of his hard work. He certainly knows that it could worth more than Two thousand rupees in the market price. He even didn’t bother of paying him low price but he utterly lied that he handed my father Nineteen Hundred rupees, claimed that he was a dense, illiterate, drunkard and worthless. He was not able to calculate at least a small amount of money. This entire abusive conversation, deeply wounded my father’s conscience. His eyes almost filled with tears of humiliation done to him among his colleagues. He felt helpless of the situation.

I dared to move ahead to intervene into the situation. I mustard my courage to grab money from my father’s hand. I started counting aloud quickly. I easily concluded that the amount was only Eleven Hundred and Fifty but not Nineteen Hundred rupees. I uttered in a defensive tone. I cornered him through my words though he tried to cry against me. I got satisfied by my conversation would definitely be a retaliation for Saheb

We left the shop. We could neither speak not look at each other. The silence reigned till we reached home. My mother got to know about this tumult through one of our neighbours. But I gestured her not to discuss anything about it.

The next day I woke up with afresh feeling that I conquered something to make the world realise that I am a literate and accurate in calculations. I expressed my gratitude to Vidya Didi heart fully who was behind me of shaping my dream of getting educated. I got ready as usual and took my sack. My father called me and said “ Not the sack but take a books bag to go to school, gone are the miserable days, now the time has come to prove your mettle to the world”.

I heaved a sigh of relief. The same world which is gloomy most of the time is new, wonderful and thrilled for me now.