This Monday was unlike any other day for me as well as for the residents of Tilak road, Nal stop and Nav Sahyadri society. For these people saw today a scene which they had probably never seen before.
An unusual pair was walking down the streets. There was a scrap collector with his handcart, wearing his usual rags and along with him there was a well dressed youth shouting, “Scrap collector, waste papers…” just as the ragged old man shouts!
Why is this nice young man behaving in such a strange fashion? He appears to be from a good family from the look of his clothes and from the way he talks! Then why is he collecting scrap? These were the questions arising in the minds of the watching people…
And the answer? Only one.. Deepa Tai’s email! Because that youth was me! I was highly influenced by the film ‘Tomorrow’ which we had seen in Gadchiroli just like everyone else. I had read Deepa Tai’s mail around 5th or 6th of August and decided that I’ll spend 16th August collecting scrap with the scrap collector. But for some reason the 18th dawned. Anyways…
After reading the title of the article you must be wondering at the connection between the flute player and the scrap collector. It was the afternoon of 28th July that I was returning after posting a letter near the Nav Sahyadri post office when I heard some very melodious notes of the flute. When I reached the source of the sound, I saw that the scrap collector was sitting under a tree and was playing the flute very beautifully! The flute was broken in several places. He had apparently repaired it and was playing some very melodious songs. On asking him, I found out, someone had given off that flute as scrap some 5 to 6 years back which he had picked up. He
repaired the flute and started playing it… Over time, he quite liked his new pastime and developed it as his passion through diligent practice and perseverance without going for any music classes. Today he can play around 20 songs on the flute, new and old alike!
I met him on the 13th and asked him if I could accompany him on his rounds on the 18th. Accordingly on the 18th of August, we set off on our rounds at around 1 in the afternoon and walked for 8 to 10 km till 5.30 in the evening. After walking so much, our profit was 130
The scrap collector earns Rs. 170 to 220 on an average per day, after walking for almost 10 to 20 km. in such a meager profit, I wondered how he managed to raise his kids, pay the rent for his home and spare money for all his other expenses. Hesitating a little, I asked him this question. He told me he had a small farm in a village near Ahmednagar. However, he could not depend on this farm as his sole means of income and so he shifted to Pune. In the evening, I brought him home and gave him some snacks. And then he played some 7 – 8 songs on the flute foe all of us at home, my mother, my father and my grandmother. I have even done some video shooting on my mobile!
I still had some questions in my mind but didn’t have the courage to ask him… I did learn a few things though!
- I had completely lost my shame (not that I had much in the first place!).
- I experienced his life of endless efforts.
- And I learnt to find the silver lining for every cloud!
--- Siddharth Prabhune