hoping to get constructive feedback. Let it be anything, honest remarks are all I need now
|There was a downpour last night, drenching the city with every might of nature. The night seemed longer than usual, with the rain falling as loud as my thoughts in my head - I knew I'd be waking up to a long day at work.|
I closed my eyes, wishing all the trash and the filth gets washed away off the streets.
The sun pours through the scattered array of clouds drying out the dampness in the air. A few dots of dark clouds could be spotted amidst the misty ones, but no rain said the radio.
It's that hour of the day when roads are filled with school kids and cautious mothers boarding their kids on a bus. I notice how the uniforms of all the schools are very similar yet somehow different from one another.
On Wednesdays, the kids wear bright-colored uniforms. Leela says that it's a "sports dress.". She knows a great deal about private school customs from her friends, who have friends who might be friends with kids from private schools. I even got her a red one; a few months back from one of the houses I attend. "No green?" she asked.
Even though the school she attends hardly has a patch of land left to be called a playground, she loves to play. Well, you can't expect a lot from a government school anyhow.
I stroll through the streets, pushing the heavy trolley as it wobbles under the uneven weight of the bins.
People don't just walk past me, they make sure they maintain an adequate distance away from me, and I walk as if I haven't noticed them making that distance. Some even cover their nose with disgust on their face.
There's a whistle hanging down my neck, which I'm tired of blowing every day. I pick it up and blow a long one with all my might, and a few gates creak wide open, awaiting me.
Some empty their bins into mine, while most ask me to. I do so without making a face. Are you that uncomfortable handling your garbage? I wanted to ask.
A few people living in apartments won't mind throwing their waste on the roads. For them - It's just throwing trash from balconies at night, only for it to vanish in the morning. They don't care how long it takes for us to clean the filth and get back home.
Nirmala, who cleans the main-street roads at night, got trash thrown at her from a second-floor balcony. "It happens. Just be careful the next time." The contractor shrugged the other day.
If it's one of your worst days which most days are, you are made to pick up used diapers and sanitary pads, maybe even clean vomit off the streets.
These works usually go way after the city's gone to bed and start right before it wakes up. In the meanwhile, we have a family to run as well.
I pass streets blowing the whistle, stockpiling trash, and gazing at houses of different sizes and colors.
Rains don't just flood the garbage bins- they also water-log the streets, making it harder for me to navigate the trolley - my wrists were tortured, and I had to stop. My worn-out rubber slippers squeak from all the muddy pool; it walked on.
I paused at the last house.
It had tainted-orange painted short walls with a steel beam running over them. The house has a porch that leads to the driveway covered with perfectly-squared red and white tiles and a lemon tree to the right.
A woman in her mid-fifties appears from the doorway with eyes looking for me.
She comes heavy-footed down the steps on the porch, legs shuffling while opening the iron gate. It smelled of new paint.
She sighed with a coy smile after making me witness her little endeavor to the road. She drops her trash into my bin.
I smile back.
"Ma, could you give me some water?"
I sensed the hesitation as her face curled up.
She began her uphill into the house to fetch some water.
I started to regret it.
She hands me an old cold drink bottle filled with water.
I had a few mouthfuls of water down my throat when I heard, "Don't hand it back, take it away," she declared and walked away.
My face flushed red with shame and rage. It took a moment to feel the full sting of it.
I felt the water in my throat glide like a razor, cutting everything inside.
My knees wobble under the weight of a dread pressing against my chest, I know where these people think I belong, but at least they should have the heart not to blurt out right in front of me.
The water bottle seemed heavy than it was, glued to my hand like her words to my heart.
I started moving away, realizing there was nothing else I could do better- other than keep coming to the same streets every day and fetch their trash and conception of my work. I don't even have the choice to be mad at anyone except myself.
The air feels heavier than last night, almost suffocating me. I shut my eyes hard enough for them to hurt, thinking about Leela, her face, and her smile. My cheeks turn wet, my throat on the verge of a break.
"Not now," I say to myself, holding tears.
My lips, reciting a silent prayer for my daughter, who shouldn't turn into her mother as I did.