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February 9, 2012

(With sincere thanks to Shail)

My name is James. You most probably would have seen me if you live in the 43rd ward. I am the garbage collector. Everyday, I pull my tricycle and collect garbage from the houses here. I serve about 600 houses. And I can vouch that there are at least 100 kinds of people in this world or more. There is Mrs. Laila, who treats me kindly. She usually separates the garbage into bio degradable and non bio degradable stuff and places the two piles neatly by her compound wall. On festivals and other special days she makes it a point to give me some dishes they cook at home. And there are the Rajans, who treat me, worse than the garbage that they generate. Their looks of contempt, whenever they see me are too strong to bear. There is this lady, on the 4th street, who makes me clean her sewage tank and gives me just ten rupees for it. It would take 2 hours of my time and the money wouldn’t be enough even to buy soap to get the stink off the body. Then why do I do it, you might ask? Because, I don’t have a choice.  To be fair, there are a few of those who give me twenty or thirty rupees every month, though they don’t have to. There are also people who throw their garbage in front of other people’s houses. The dogs, and there are quite a few of those stray ones, would strew them all over the place. The worst part is that I get blamed for this too. Actually the dogs form a part of my entourage when I go garbage hunting. I segregate the waste to be taken to a bigger bin, which would then be cleared by the trucks. There are a few plastic bags hanging out on the sides of the tricycle. Whatever I think can be recycled, I take away to make some money on the side. Whenever I find something that the dogs can use as ‘breakfast’, I pass it on to them. But they follow me at a safe distance. They know that I am not benevolent on all days. Some days, especially if I have crossed path with one of the Rajans, the dogs would have it that day. I would kick them or throw big stones at them. The white lame one would bear the brunt of my ferociousness on such days. It is the one with the back right leg broken. Probably had an argument with a car or a lorry and lost it. Somehow it, as it hobbles on its three legs, reminds me of my pathetic life. But this is not about my routine or about the people I encounter.

I got married recently. A fortnight ago. I can see a few eye brows going up. A bride for a garbage man? This girl was a distant relative. She wasn’t getting any matches either. My mother was nagging me. Probably she planned to get some money from the girl’s parents as dowry, I don’t know. After a while I gave in. The wedding itself was a simple affair at a nearby temple. A few people from the girl’s side and a few people from the conservancy agency where I work for made for the motley crowd. Rani, that is my wife’s name, would eventually be a part of garbage collecting team. But I didn’t want to pull her into this filth just as yet. Rani’s uncle couldn’t come for the wedding or most probably didn’t want to come. He works as a manger, somewhere. He would have thought it was beneath his dignity to attend a garbage man’s wedding. So he did the next best thing. He invited us for lunch. He lived in one of the posh localities. There was a small problem. To get to the bus terminus to catch a bus to the uncle’s house, I had to pass through the area where I work. No big deal, you might say, but I was scared that I might be recognized. So last Sunday, my wife and I dressed in our best clothes started out. I was very conscious of myself. I passed Mr. Rajan. There wasn’t the usual scorn, reserved for me whenever I pass him. Mrs. Laila was standing on her balcony. As I looked up, she looked at me, but there were no signs of recognition. There were others too on the way, who would have recognized me if I was in my uniform of grey shirt and shorts. There was a huge relief but to be honest I was a little disappointed as well. As I made the last turn to the main road, I turned back. The three legged fellow was behind me wagging its tail.


I outdid myself this time. My first blog for the year would be somewhere in the middle of January, and this time around it has spilled over to the first week of February. Is it drying up of ideas? Au-contraire there are many things I want to write, but they are all flowing in other directions than into my blog I hope things will turn out for the better.

I also look back at the year gone by and notice with dismay that I have not thanked people for what they have done for me.

First, there is Usha, she has been sending me awards my way left, right and centre and I have not even acknowledged that, but more importantly I want to thank her for her efforts to highlight my inane comments in four lines (sometimes more) on her beautiful poetry.

Thanks, is also due to Somakritya, and also my apologies for failing acknowledge the awards and tags she has been conferring. I also need to thank her for the child like enthusiasm that she spreads as I read her posts and also for making me realize that we don’t have to take life so seriously. Her efforts in coxing me to stand up and take the first tentative steps have failed. I am scared and refuse even to get up

How can I forget Shail, Susan, Pallavi or Ashes, who have long ago seen me for the dud I am, and have stopped coming to my blog, but they still remain good friends in spite of that knowledge. Thank you for that.

Gaurav is my uncle, an epitome of knowledge who had taught me a lot of things, but most importantly how to live life to the fullest shrugging off all the pain that he had to undergo.

Thank you Charusree, for making me think a lot. In fact this story would have been seeded by this post of hers.

I have to thank my colleagues. Ramsundar, Vijay. Kesavan and Sujatha, who are so busy that they don’t have time to comment on my posts but somehow still manage to read them on the Reader.

The same can’t be said about Ramnarayanan, who reads and comments on my post. I only hope for his own good that he realizes just like Shail & co that I am an empty person and move on.

To my numerous followers of my blog, okay okay, to a few  people like Bhavesh, ThechronicR, Talin401 and Shiny who were willing to take the risk and who could be counted on the fingers of one of my hands, a big thanks. I know that I have not even made a visit to your blogs and that you deserve better.

I have to thank my sons for being understanding and mature at a very young age. I wasn’t mature even at twice their age. For that matter I am still not mature enough.

I have saved the best for last. Or the last for the best. Either way it works out. I salute my wife who puts up with all my idiosyncrasies and has to take the brunt of my anger, frustrations, sadness and fears.

I am very glad that I am able to co-habitat this universe with you and be your contemporary. Thank you all.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. February 9, 2012 20:13

    Glad. Utterly glad. I’ll tell you why 🙂
    I’ve been stalking this blog, and in a couple of days, most likely tomorrow itself, I would not have been able to stop myself emailing you, or pinging you on seeing the green dot next to your name, on the chat window on gmail :D, demanding to read more from you 🙂
    So, first of all, thank you.

    The story is touching. At so many levels, and especially at the level of the three-legged dog, for whom the man is a saviour. That part was really really poignant. You say there is much that is waiting to be written, many ideas and muses, perhaps. You know, of course, don’t you, that you need to give them their moment, air them out? Waiting. And of course, remember that a publisher/s would love help you make a profit, while he/they too would. 🙂

    So to the thank you speech 🙂 Loved that too, And thank you too, for the privilege of having you read and comment on the blog as well! A pleasure to read from you too, always. So please do post more often 🙂

    • February 9, 2012 20:21

      Thank you Usha. Will try to post more often. In fact this would have been prompted by your ‘Wish you’d write more often’ 🙂

  2. Vijay permalink
    February 9, 2012 20:32

    We make it a point to read it on the same day too :p

    More importantly, we Thank “you” for being the person you are!!!!!!!!!!!!

    That’s what I said Vijay. These people somehow mangae to read in spite of their busy schedule. For being the person that I am? A dud? That’s cruel

  3. February 10, 2012 00:50

    So enjoyed this story, Govind – very creative!

    Thank you Martha for your kind words. Glad that you liked it.

  4. February 10, 2012 03:08

    I am amazed you took the efforts to mention people here. But what amazed me more was the what you wrote before it. I am glad I read this on a mundane day in office.

    Thanks Bhavesh. It is the least I can do. When somebody is following your blog I need to at least visit.I think I was caught up in serious business. Will make amends. Glad you thought that post was better than a mundane day in office.

  5. February 10, 2012 09:18

    Aha, a dud, I believe. We have stopped coming not because you are a dud but because we thought that you had forgotten about your blog!!!

    And, I have had so many similar conversations with the individuals who collect garbage. Sadly, there is no system like that in Tiruvarur and I am my own garbage woman.

    And, glad to see familiar names alongside mine in Satmuse.

    Ha Ha. Thanks for the honourable mention.

    Joy always,

    P. S: Your sons are quite handsome . . . taken after the mother, I suppose!

    Thank you Sus. Yes, must have taken after their mother. She is a handsome woman.

  6. February 10, 2012 11:37

    Loved this story of your Govind. No wonder why they say a dog is a man’s best friend. They never forget.

    Thanks Rimly for your kind words. They sure are. We had 4 dogs at one of point of time. It is their passing away that we couldn’t bear.

  7. February 10, 2012 12:09

    Beautiful story Govind, truly touching.

    Thank you Janaki. I am guilty of not visiting your blog so far. Will make amends.

  8. February 10, 2012 12:29

    Oh Govind you should write more…what a beautiful post..gratitude is such a beautiful quality to have..yet people use it looking at the class in front of them….
    oh the class caste divide and the way people treat the very people who are keeping their surrounding clean…..
    thanks for the beautiful generous warm mention 🙂

    Thanks Soma. I meant every word I wrote. So how are things otherwise?

  9. momofrs permalink
    February 10, 2012 13:05

    WOW!! This was beautiful short story. So poignant and realistic 🙂
    Extremely well written G 🙂

    Thank you momofrs. I have not visited your blog for a long time or for that matter any blog. Will come shortly. Trust everything is fine at your end.

  10. February 10, 2012 16:51

    A great story Govind

    Thank you Savira for your visit and your kind words.

  11. February 10, 2012 20:55

    Govind Sir, Did the story of Mahabharat inspire you anyway in writing this story of yours? The great Yudhishtra, when he was alone, after all the other pandavas and Draupadi met their end atlast saw only a dog accompanying him in the end.As I read the last line of the story, this incident came to my mind.Any ways, just like rajini says in his films “more than loving a girl who you like, love a girl who likes you” this story gives a hint that we are more concerned about certain people thinking that they love us most though it is not the fact. The fact is certain people love us the most and we are not realising it. Nice story Sir.

    I was always seeing you online on facebook and more than once I thought of asking you about your blog which was not updated for long. But I thought since you are bent upon bringing huge business to our company I felt it is not nice disturbing you. So, I kept quiet.

    Rajni is great! I am glad there is at least one soul in Orchid who ‘thinks’ I am working.

  12. February 12, 2012 01:40

    Hello Govind.
    First time here visiting from Blogplicity.

    What an enjoyable, reflective read.

    I too had my own celebrations in January. On 22, my wife & I celebrated our 10th Wedding Anniversary and on 28 I celebrated my 1st Blogoversary.

    Thanks for sharing this poignant story.
    You write very well.

    Thoughts Of Beauty In The Stillness Of Dawn

    Thank you Andy for taking the time to visit and leave your comment.

  13. tumultuousjourney permalink
    February 12, 2012 14:45

    Such a wonderful story. Glad to see you writing again…<3

    Thank you tumultuousjourney for your kind words. I wish my journey was as tumultuous as yours ❤

  14. February 14, 2012 08:12

    “Stopped coming to your blog” Oh yeah?! Just shows you are either too busy to read comments or have amnesia.

    Who are you? 🙂

  15. February 14, 2012 23:18

    Congrats on the Blogadda Tangy Tuesday Pick 🙂

    Thanks Shail. I don’t know what I’d do without you. (Now stop getting ideas). 🙂


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