He frowned and stared down into the city. The newspaper crumbled under his clutch. The report said “Rather cloudy across the region with heavy, showery rains.” The clouds got darker as they stood right above the busy city. He hated when it rained, the entire city would turn upside down. The roads got filled up and the city got dirty. His brand new BMW would get all dirty.
This came in the worst possible time for him, he had a high profile meeting today and he had to be impressive. The thought of his ARMANI suit getting wet made him frown even more. He immediately rang up his secretary and ordered her to ensure that the security was out with an umbrella waiting for him. He dressed up and slid into his BMW grumbling. Just as he had expected the roads were filled up, and the traffic was just intolerable. ‘The only thing makes the city look like one is the tall buildings and the pretty cars in the traffic but apart from these, this place is like a wretched village.’ he thought aloud. He sat there right in between honking cars all around and all he could do was curse the rain.
Quite far from him, in a deserted backward village a 9 year old girl ran with joy and happiness. She couldn’t wait to tell this to her mother, she knew it would make her happy. Her baby brother was playing with stones right outside their tiny house. Their house had only one room which was divided by a small piece of old cloth. The other side of the cloth was the kitchen. She dashed into the kitchen where her mother was cooking something with her baby sister on her hands. “Maa, it is going to rain!! There are dark clouds all over the village! It is going to rain!” she screamed with excitement as she held onto her mother. But without even the slightest sign of happiness she said “Where is your brother? Go and get him!” She left the kitchen with her head hung down in despair. She was confused, she had heard her pray to God a million times to bless her with a shower. Deep inside the lady’s heart, she was jumping with happiness and joy just like her daughter was a while ago.
She took the broom and all other cleaning paraphernalia and set out to work. She wasn’t a sweeper, she would have been more than happy if she was a sweeper. She was in charge of cleaning the ‘dry’ toilets of many houses in the village. The village people did not have normal toilets that functioned with a flush instead they have dry toilets and these had to be cleaned every day. This was her job, not because she chose to do it but she was ‘supposed’ to do it. She belonged to the caste who traditionally have been doing this odd job from ages, just because they are considered the lowest in the caste system. This job was hereditary. She is, what we call them in the city, a manual scavenger.
Her daughter was right, the clouds burst and it started to shower profusely. Her heart was filled with contentment. For her rain meant purification, for her rain was a boon, a gift of God, sometimes rain itself is the God for her. She walked in the rain enjoying every single drop of it. Completely drenched in the rain, she reached the houses where half of her job had already been done by the rain. Without much complains and protests she went on to do her job with a smile in her face.
Manual Scavenging is a grievous job still existing in many parts India including cities and backward villages. In the cities, men are tied and roped down into sewage to clean them up. Many have lost their lives due to suffocation while doing this dreadful job. In the villages, dry toilets still continues to prevail over flush toilets and people of the lower caste are forced to take up the job of cleaning these toilets.
The people from this caste are not given any other jobs in the village other than this. They are seen as untouchables. They have to get their own glasses to drink tea from any tea stall in the village. They are not permitted entry to any of the temples. Not even haircuts are given to them in any of the saloons in the village. We are not talking about pre-independence India here, it’s the 21st century India. All though the constitution of the country have set rules against such acts, the governments who have been in rule have failed to ensure strict implementation of the same. It is very disturbing to know that human beings are forced to do such odd jobs only because of the villagers are being ignorant to sanitary advancements.