Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Respect Trash for the Poor It Feeds

Category: Issue 21

Earlier this evening, after returning from dinner, I found it was time to throw way the trash that had been accumulating in the kitchen. And always happy to throw the street dogs some crumbs for an unexpected treat, I picked the trash-filled shopping bags, one of them containing crumbs of bread and a few bits of food, and I went out to the dump outside along the road.

Half way through, I saw the group of street dogs sitting there very peacefully, looking like a silent family. I took out the box containing the food and put it in front of the dogs. They were most probably sated since they just ignored it and looked at me calmly with eyes as if I had appeared at the wrong time and couldn’t be welcomed warmly (though one of them did wag its tail a little to honor my goodwill). So I left and moved onward to the dump. There, I spotted a ragged man searching through the garbage inside the dump, holding a sack containing some cardboard packs and other trash items.

As I got near him and was about to throw the trash, he extended his hand and asked me to kindly give him the trash. I greeted him, handed over the shopping bags, and asked what he was looking for in the garbage. He said he was searching for cardboard boxes, packs, bottles etc. Feeling his poverty, I took a little money out of my pocket to give him and asked, “How much it sells for?”, pointing to the trash in his sack.

“Forty rupees for a kilo,” he said. That meant about half a dollar, money enough to buy a modest meal for one time. 

“So do you make enough in a day to keep you going?” I asked. He nodded with a smile that seemed to appreciate my concern, but at the same time was sad with a sense of poverty; or maybe it was my perception. I gave him the money and he prayed for me.

Returning to the residence, I felt strongly for the poor trash seller’s burden. He had to collect trash at night probably because it was a time when he wouldn’t have competition in doing so. And finding a kilo meant one time’s meal. But it was kind of soothing to learn that he did find enough to keep him going. However brief my meeting with the poor man, it proved a source of revision of my long-held feeling that the municipality should remove the trash immediately as it was dumped.

I now felt, for the first time, that trash was not just trash but in fact a regular means of survival for some humans who are not fortunate enough to be sure of their meals in the coming days ahead. For them, making it to dumps in time meant living another day without having to beg for food or money. Garbage, therefore, is not some dirty, filthy heap of waste but also a source of food for the dregs of our society.

My brief visit out to the dump changed me in matters of minutes in the way I thought of garbage. Now, the ‘waste’ is respectable to me because it keeps my fellow men alive. I man to make sure not to let garbage keep building for days in my residence but to deliver it to the dump regularly so that it may win someone a meal. 


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Old Comments

  • One’s garbage is another’s treasure…Compelling tale. I just wish there was enough garbage to go around. We could all use a bite of humility pie.

    Posted by StarLizard  on  01/26  at  08:58 PM
  • That was a pretty powerful article. I have never thought about trash in that sense before. I feel this article made me think differently about trash even though I did not experience what you did. You have to respect someone for trying to work for their survival; poverty can be devastating, but at least this person can feel a decency about himself. Thanks for sharing, it really made a difference.

    Posted by Marvin  on  02/24  at  02:30 PM
  • Thank you! I’m thankful for the trash and for the trash collector to allow me a chance to learn myself!

    Posted by Prometheus  on  02/24  at  03:07 PM
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