LIFE AMONG THE RAGS
Northeast Today|March 2021
They picked up recyclable materials from the street, garbage dump, market or in trash bin. They were a group of four minor rag pickers between 7 to 10 years of age meet at a point and starts picking rags in the railway colony. They picked up anything which fetched them money such as paper, cardboard, plastic, iron scrap, tin containers, and bottles.
Rabin Kalita

Nupur the eldest one helped other three minors to identify the retrievable bits and pieces. She walked along them with a rod tied with a piece of magnet to fish out for salvageable iron bits. Their extreme poverty forced them to enter in this profession to stay alive.

Arpan, a Vivekananda School student seldom see them roving and collecting scraps from unhealthy plunk. Seeing them wandering all the day in search of rags slinging huge plastic sacks on their petite shoulders out cried his tiny heart in pain. They went through a very tough time in searching all over to eke out their livelihood. He scrupulously watched their untidy and dirty clothes, careless hairs standing by side of the road. Very often he saw them meeting with injuries and falling sick due to the toxic substances and sharp material while they scrounged with bare hands as well as bare feet. It is also a hard truth that no credibility is given to these deprived rag pickers who play a vital role in waste management system especially in urban area.

Sometimes he broke into tears by seeing them consuming food-waste sitting together collected from the pile of waste. Gradually he developed a sense of help towards them. Every so often, he would bring toffees for them or biscuits bought out of his pocket money. He loved to talk with them and was eager to know their well-being.

Thus he became an identified face who ardently thought about them. Seeing him at a distance they would run shouting Arpanda- Arpanda and asked for anything which he could provide them to eat. Soon they get his nods; they would hop and shout with joy and accompanied him to the shop. Hardly they found him empty-handed while he was on the way to his school. Those poor children also felt delighted to meet Arpan daily at a fixed time.

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