They were two of them. The boys. Their eyes never left their targets. After all, even a moment’s distraction could possibly have been the evening’s meal. There are always those generous people of this city who buy a burger from McDonalds and throw it away half eaten. Then there are small toys to be had. The competition was tough and every bottle meant some money. Rotten flowers, torn newspapers, deflated balloons, food, those leaf bowls for prasads, plastics and polythene – all told a story. Strange colored wires hanging from the mouth of the bin….an oddity..They ran to the beat constable on duty, alerted him to what they saw and before they realised, their means of livelihood had been surrounded by men resembling a species from outer space. Th periphery was immediately evacuated and deft fingers worked against time to diffuse the clock ticking away with the wires. It was a powerful bomb, capable of killing 200 people in a single blast. Curious onlookers watched with fear and excitement as the bomb was contained and the threat was over.
All thanks to the boys – they were rag pickers. The dustbins were thier means of livelihood and they kept a vigil on our waste. I was not their that evening, but it could have been me, or my friends and family. it could have been my neighbour or even a stranger I did not know, but we are all connected.
Thank you for saving our lives. Thank you for keeping a watch even when most often you go unnoticed. Thank you that despite being ill treated and often beaten and abused at the hands of the law, you came forward and became the hands of the law. And even though, there isn’t much I can do for you or the countless others like you who are living on the streets of Delhi, without shelter and food, I want you to know I am in debt. I know it doesn’t count for much when politicians call for meetings and make committees while the struggle of life continues for you every day; and we go back to our lives of comfort. I wish someday I can do something.