Scrounging for gold

Seasons change from scorching summers to rainy winters, but I still find that municipality worker round the corner, picking litter scattered on roads. He works tirelessly twice a day cleaning the roads for an entire area without a complaint or a demand. And this is the case of thousands of municipality worker, working all over Abu Dhabi, giving it the (what I would like to call) the spark.

“I believe in karma! What I am, is because of what I have done.” Says Hekmat, a young municipality worker. “Do you like your work?” I ask. “Well, I don’t have much say in it, do I? I rather do this job well, instead of cribbing about what I have. I have no choice; I have to work to feed myself, because I have to feed my family back home. So, no one really cares about what I like or detest.” Replies Hekmat, frustrated.

Hekmat is form a village called Semapuri, which is on the peripheries of Delhi yet miles away from it, metaphorically. Those who live here are squatters who came from Bangladesh back in 1971. Hekmat’s family is one among them. Hekmat was a former “chai wala” at a road side dhabba. His life changed, when he came in contacts with an agent who provides visa to work in Middle East and ices it with big dreams. Lulled by the offer, Hekmat moved to UAE two years back and found his hopes and dreams to be all an illusion. “This is not the life I had dreamt for myself. I always wanted to finish my schooling and then go to a college where they taught how to cook and later become a chef, you know just like Sanjeev kapoor from Khana Khazana. Actually I love to cook…always wanted to be a reputed cook…but not all dreams come true.” Smirks Hekmat.

“Tell me Hekmat, in this job of yours, by far what is the best and worst experience you have had?” I ask. “To be honest, Didi, the best part about this job is that I sometimes come across “valuable trash”. Like a lost imitation earring, a coin, a used movie ticket (he has a hobby of collecting move tickets). Once I even found a torn watch, which I repaired and am using now.” Flaunting his watch. “But the worse part about this job is that, there is no escape from this vicious cycle. Neither can we protest about this injustice nor can we let go of the job!” Sighs, Hekmat.

“Zindigi ke safar mein guzar jate hai jo makam, phir nehi aate, phir nehi aate…” I suddenly hear Hekmat humming a classic Kishore Kumar song, as he continues with his work. Leaving behind this simple yet profound message ‘in the journey of life, opportunities come, but they come knocking just once, they won’t come knocking again…’

*This is no fictitious incident. All contents name and places are true. And all conversation took place in Bangla.


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