Interview with Raju and Rajul – Two Ragpickers from Delhi

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We all are alive today, in fact, happily alive. Inspite of the so-called ‘tough roads’ we are walking on, we are still comfortably happy with the hope of a better tomorrow. Whether it be me, you or L.N. Mittal, who wants to count more millions than he does now? Or does Shahrukh Khan, whose appetite for ‘hits’, God knows when, will satiate? Or Amitabh Bachchan who wants to endorse all oils, ointments and ‘Chyawanprash-es’ on Earth? Or Sachin Tendulkar, who wants to make as many runs as hair on his head!

We all run and we all work harder to come as close to what we call ‘success’. More fame, more money, and a bigger name are all what we want from our tomorrow, but for most people on the same planet, life is more about today. The struggle to live the day, the fight to feed their stomach, not more, at least once, with the only the hope that there will be a better tomorrow. Irony being, that they share the same city and the same sky. At some points our existence helps them to sustain, but at most points they go unnoticed, uncared and get hate and sympathy sans empathy from us.

In this interview, we bring you those souls who are the real soldiers of the war called Life. They face the worst of the circumstances, but still they fight and will continue to do so. Some have overcome, some are still trying, but all are winners. The Viewspaper salutes them, so will you.

Just read on…

Less then 80% of the solid waste, which Delhi generates, is collected on the ground level Of this collected waste, a major chunk is collected by an army of about 100,000 rag pickers operating in the city. Earlier, these rag pickers had direct contacts with recycling units. However, recently, the Government of India privatized this business and now, these people are paid less and exploited more by the private contractors for whom they work

The Viewspaper met these three children, who are rag pickers in Chirag Dilli:

VP: Hi! Can we talk?

Kids: Who are you? (in an alert, cautious tone)

VP: We are from an online newspaper. We want to talk to you and we will publish it too.

Kids (looking at each other confused)

VP: We will click your photo and publish your name.

Kids (interested): All right.

VP: What are your names?

Kids: I am Raju, I am Rajul Mohammad and he is Rakibu (two friends, elder looking introducing the younger chap, who is too young and feels too shy to talk)

VP: Where do you live?

Kids (Rajul): We live in Jawahar park slums in Devli Gaon

(Devli Gaon is a slum area in South Delhi near Sangam Vihar.)

VP: Where are your parents?

Kids: (Rajul) They, too, live there with us.

(Raju): My parents live in Jind, here I live with my maternal uncle and his wife.

VP: Oh, so your family is not here? Why are you not living with them?

Raju: They sent me last year after holi to earn and feed myself.

VP: What does your father do, back home? Can’t he bring you up?

Raju: My parents are very poor and we are three siblings . He does different jobs like rag-picking and pulling the rickshaw. My mother pleaded with him to not send me here or at least escort me, but he said we can’t live together in Delhi as it is very expensive.

VP: Why did he send you here then?

Raju: My maternal uncle wanted some help in his business but when I arrived here, he put me into this job.

VP: So how much you earn in a day?

Raju: About Rs.100 per day, which ‘thekedaar’ gives me on monthly basis.

VP: So, how you spend this money?

Raju: I have to give this whole amount to my uncle, a part of which he sends to my family.

VP: Have you ever gone to school?

Raju: Yes. I went to school till I was in eighth class. Then my parents didn’t have money to pay my fees and I was sent to Delhi.

(State run ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ aims at providing free education only till primary level and eighth standard is the last class of this scheme.)

VP (To Rajul & Rakub): Did you ever go to school?

Rajul: No, never.

VP: Don’t you want to go?

Rajul: I do want to, but my mum wakes me up every morning early and gives this sack in my hand. I cannot help it.

VP: You like doing this job of rag picking?

Kids: Yes, it gives us money but the conductor does not lets us in the bus, we have to walk all the way to contractor’s place with about 20 kg waste and then come back again to collect more.

(They may buy the ticket but conductors ward them off because then other people will not board the bus.)

VP: Have you seen any movies?

Kids (Raju confused) (Rajul laughing) (Rakibu silent like always)

VP: Who is your favorite hero?

Raju: Sunny Deol

VP: Why?

Raju:I saw him bash goons and police around.

VP: You want to bash police?

Raju: No. But they beat us many times with no reason.

VP: Then what you do?

Raju: We weep for a while and then do our work again, we can’t leave this job.

VP: Why you think Police beats you?

Raju: Oh! They think we are thieves. Madam ji, we can stay hungry but we can’t steal. Not every poor is a thief.

VP: What is your dream in life?

(No body answers)

(We reframe our question)

VP: What you want to do when you grow up? You want to continue with rag picking always?

Raju: I want to be a schoolmaster

Rajul: I want to go to school once only.

VP (To Raju): When will you see your parents again?

Raju: They asked me to come only twice a year. I will go on Holi to meet my sister and brother. I miss them.

Rakibu reminded them of the time and so these kids left with their sack of garbage for yet another uphill day…

Compiled By: Monica Verma

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