The Rag Picker

With creaking and weak joints he sat in his rocking chair. Somehow, old age suited him, he was tired and had had his share of both good and bad parts of life. Retirement was something Suresh was really good at.Being a very corrupt minister of railways of a very corrupt government, he was rich beyond measures. He had a big mansion and several servants to cater to his needs. He had everything one could wish for but nothing stays forever and soon things started falling apart. His son and daughter settled abroad and his wife died of cardiac arrest a year after.

The next year Suresh was nothing more than an old, rich man with no one to share his wealth with and absolutely no happiness to share. It was mid October, the festival of Diwali was just a week away. He was sitting in his chair watching bustling crowd preparing for the on coming festival. It meant nothing to him, not anymore. There was a time when he used to be a part of the very crowd, buying big boxes of sweets and firecrackers. Now he was reduced to be an observer, watching those happy faces and living the festival through their happiness.

Diwali soon arrived. The night sky was filled with lights, thousands of colours blend into spectacular shapes and designs and the air was filled with noises of different kinds. Watching from his veranda, it almost looked like a competition among all these fire-crackers, which one will be the brightest and loudest. It went till dawn and Suresh was getting ready to take his daily morning walk when he saw something.

The celebrations were almost finished but the streets were full of people, only they were not people but small children wearing tattered clothes and hanging huge sacks, picking up the burnt leftovers of the fallen crackers, rag pickers. He wobbled to the gate covering himself in his thin shawl. The guard saluted him and opened the gate. He saw a small group of these rag pickers collecting artifacts which fell from the sky last night. As closer he got to them the more astonished he was by what he saw.

These children were as happy, if not more as the people who set these fire crackers last night. His eyes were filled with burning tears and his face was lightened with a smile. He waved at them, at first they hesitated then they slowly walked upto him. He took them inside and had them seated at his dining table. He then ordered the cook to cook a delicious meal for them. After feeding them he requested the children to come to his house at night and bring as many friends they could.


When the children went away he went in his room opened his safe and took a big wad of money and told one his servants to go out and buy as many firecrackers as he could. When night came the house was filled with small children, lighting crackers and watching them whizz by and disappear into the night sky. Suresh’s happiness knew no bounds when he saw the happy faces of these children, it was after a long time he was this happy. From that year onwards every diwali he used to celebrate with these children, these rag pickers.



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