• Ayesha Shaikh

An interview with an unsung hero: Mr Binder.

I interviewed the waste collector that works in my society. Upon my approach, he was confused as to why I wanted to interview him. He said, "Me itna padha likha nahi hoon, aapko mujhse kyu pooch na hai?" (I'm not an educated person, why do you want to interview me?)


Mr Binder primarily collects waste from every household and then delivers it into the dump truck. When asked about the biggest difficulty he faces, he replied that people often don't segregate their waste so he has to unpack all of it and segregate it with his bare hands. While pointing to a plastic wrapper he complained about how troublesome it is to separate the wrappers from vegetable shavings.


He referred to his job as "majboori" (helplessness) while smiling sadly. I asked whether his salary is enough to suffice him to which he replied that almost all of his money is used to pay rent and electricity bills.


My last question to him was: "Would you like any changes to the current system?" to which Mr Binder replied, "hum kaun hote hai badlaav maangne" (who are we to demand a change).


If it weren’t for people like Mr Binder and many others like him, our societies would be like a scene from a post-apocalyptic movie!


You’d be surrounded by huge heaps of garbage while the unpleasant stench of decaying food and everything horrible would tickle your nostrils every time you breathe. Swarms of flies and every other insect you might be afraid of would dance to the incessant caws of the crows. Not to mention, the garbage pile would be a hotspot brewing with potential diseases. Sounds pretty nightmarish right?


Now ask yourself this question. Imagine the person you idolize: could be a businessman, celebrity, anyone who you respect a lot. Who would you miss the most if they stopped working for a month? Your idol or your garbage collector? I’m pretty sure you chose the latter because nobody would like to live in a setting that I had mentioned earlier. Do you realise now just how important the waste collectors are?


Yet we often treat them like nobody, we are disrespectful towards them, we make faces when they pass, we acknowledge them using derogatory terms. They are risking their lives to work for us in the middle of this pandemic by exposing themselves to areas of high-risks, that too without the appropriate gear. Who would take care of them and their families if the breadwinner contracts this disease? Do their lives not matter?


They are treated so poorly and yet no one notices. Let’s make a pact that we’ll treat them better. We will ensure that we and everyone around us are respectful towards them. We will give them gifts occasionally just to remind them how important they are. We’ll ensure that their voices are heard and that their complaints are solved.


They make our lives better so it’s only fair for us to make their lives better and not worse. :)

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