Bathing in the waste like an advocate of life, reeking the air of humanity with a sarcastic wave of diligence; I observe the motionless silhouette in the early settling frost of the daylight. Like a hermit impartial to the imperfections of nature and mankind, he walks in- rummaging about in search of some great element of utmost historical significance. I stand miles away from an image which errs the interpretation of my vision. I fail to dissuade the image of the Nataraj smeared in the holy blanket of ash, unaware and undeviated by the hullabaloos of the external world.

Divinity spears down the core of existence, suddenly strangling the ego rooted deep inside me.

Air! I desperately need to breathe. But can I?

Do I deserve to share the air with him?

Forgive me, for I am a Hindu and he a Muslim. For I belong to a civilized clan whereas he is a rag picker. Does that bar me from day dreaming the image of Nataraj in him?

Well I dare to say NO.

Digging through the hills of excreta dumped away by the “have-enough” society, he drags himself everyday through the piles of stinking garbage, performing his duty without the slightest hint of agitation. For a moment I subtract the foul landscape surrounding the anatomy of this very wonder and smile at the zeal for life. Circumscribed by pests from all creed and kind, the active world around him seems to bear zero significance compared to the religious dedication he has in the dump yard. Almost every common Indian takes utmost care that not more than two of his fingers are engaged with his waste bag while attempting the javelin throw aiming at the opposite side of our houses. But his arms plunges into the rotting bag of filth for hours together as though he had found some kind of a secret potion of eternal human bliss within it.

He weeps for the squashed puppy, shuns the atrocities towards women and often likes to sip in some ‘petrol’ for dreamless sleep. Yet he keeps his occupation a secret in his circle for it would embarrass his family.

I wonder at the ego of the corrupted modern so called “civilized men”. They drink, abuse and complain in spite of being brimful with opportunities and luxury while the ragpicker creates opportunities choosing to sleep under the cloud of guilt free dreams through utmost honesty. Smothered in the ugly excreta of each gentleman’s house, the ragpicker nevertheless bears the nectar of life. Sk Aftab might have been posted by the ‘Postmaster’ into a Muslim progeny but my eyes have found the relevance of His incarnations within him- the reflection of Nataraja. Image


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