The Ragpicker

I sit looking out of the window of the Dehradoon Shatabdi,on my way back to Roorkee after two blissful months of vacationing at home.Sitting comfortably in the air conditioned chair car,I grumble (inwardly) about going back to the stifling heat, the mundane lifestyle, the boredom and ennui that characterises my life in Roorkee. As the train stops at Saharanpur, I moan loudly because the platform is on the other side of the train from where I'm sitting."Great,20 minutes of staring at dirty, plastic strewn tracks..." is all that comes into my mind.

All at once I see something moving on the track. I pause my complaining as I try to see what exactly is causing plastic bags to lift into the air and disappear somewhere. After a few moments of relentless staring, I barely distinguish a frail,wispy looking girl wearing dusty,mud coloured clothes that blend only too well with the background. She suddenly turns toward me, revealing astonishingly bright eyes in a surprisingly neat face. She looks like she's about 10 years old, but her face holds so many creases that she is wizened beyond her age. She can't see me, I'm behind a black window. We are barely a few feet away from each other, but the distance between us is much more than just those few feet. We're in two entirely separate worlds, the window giving me just a glimpse of her life. As I sit ensconed comfortably in the AC, I can see her out there under the mercilessly beating sun, picking up the filth from the tracks, putting them into the huge sack she holds across her shoulder, now discarding a packet, now picking up a newspaper. All the while she's doing this, she keeps peeping over the edge of the tracks. I see a tiny baby crawling on the platform. Probably her sibling. And suddenly, she strikes gold. Literally. In a garishly golden tetrapak, she discovers fruit juice, discarded by someone who thought it unworthy of consumption. For her, its a special treat. Lightly, she pulls herself onto the platform, hauls her sack after her and rushes to the baby. A smile lights up her face as she feeds the baby the juice... every last drop of it. As the train begins to slowly move, I can see her eyes sparkling with joy and satisfaction as she watches the baby crawling robustly again. For her, it mattered not that she didn't get a taste. For her, having something to give was the ultimate happiness.

Looking at her, I suddenly feel very small. A world of difference between us, yet who seems the happier of us both. All my grumbles and complaints vanish. As the train gathers speed and leaves the station behind, I too leave something behind and take something much more precious back with me...


  1. Preeti10:58 AM

    u write damn welll.
    but better stay away from the well.
    n wat was that girl like.....
    did u see the dreams she had in her eyes..
    or were u busy looking at the shine they carried...
    did u notice the smile her lips showed..or were u busy lookin at wat she uttered....
    better keep posting..coz u kno u always look or out the train of life....

  2. nice observation. :)

  3. Hey thanks Sagar :)

  4. Hey babes!!

    This is a well written simple incidence but really touching....

  5. Nice reality post. Sometimes, we content being in our comfort zone. But, when we have to confront with the realities of life, we know how blessed we are not having such a cursed existence.


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