In 124 days, I worked for just 17.
Rest of 107 days were black for me, because I am a blue-collar worker. A day without work means no pay. I will not die, but half empty stomach can turn one into an insomniac. Blue-collar workers work from dawn to dusk, to fill their stomach. If my hands did not ache during daytime, then my stomach will surely ache in the darkness. Whenever my hands rest, I start next day with colourless fluid. Yes, water, I mean. Because it is the only thing for which you don’t have to pay, or work hard. My hands need to feel the roughness of stones and bricks. Otherwise empty plates won’t satiate anyone.
17 days of wages and 107 days out of work. How I survived? I fear to whisper answer of this question even to myself. Sometimes I ate and sometimes colour less fluid worked. Dinner was sometimes end of sufferings, but sometimes breakfast was hard to break. I waited for hours in queue in the nearby hospital to get the lunch. I woke before dawn and stole fruits from orchards for breakfast.
I stored Taher (yellow coloured rice) and collected half rotten vegetables for dinner. And I survived…
Curfews, restrictions, bullets, pellets, shells, tear-shells and pepper gas were somehow responsible of my joblessness. I once tried to go to work, but I found myself in the middle of stone pelting and shelling. Shell or stone, if I get hit by any, I will end up resting on the hospital bed. I never liked to be surrounded by people wearing white apron, and stethoscope hanging around their neck, and had none to pay the bills.
White clothes remind me of shroud, which I have not yet brought—inadequate money to buy a piece of white cloth. For food, I can bath in sweat but cannot drench in blood. And if I die, surely these people will bury me with these stinky and ragged clothes. I will not let them blow my head with a 60 rupee bullet. I can buy enough food with the same amount. Why to kill, when you can save? I wish I will not get killed by stone; stones, which I once carried on my back to fill my empty plate. Others who got martyred, men and women wept for them.
If I die today or tomorrow, I know I will be forgotten. I only have myself to mourn on my death.
I do not know when this quarrel between tyrants and slaves will end. But I am being crushed between all of this. Group of people knocked on my door about two month’s back. “Yes! Do you need labour”, I asked. “I can work on low wages or you can give me just food” I added. “No! Actually, we are collecting money for needy people, sir,” a man in his early thirties replied. They stepped back and promised me, they will bring tomorrow whatever they can. Until this day I didn’t heard any knock on my door, except occasional wind and desperate misery.
I believe they have knocked someone else’s door. Someone, who cannot wait in the queue and cannot steal from orchards. I am not the only one here with empty pockets and plates. I can hear unheard cries of people like me.
With time, people forget martyrs. They think, for past they cannot gamble their future. But what about blue-collar workers, they have both past and future shrouded with darkness. Every time, someone is martyred, next day follows with “HARTAAL”. In this vale, do you know what the value of life is?
Just one day of Hartaal. And if it is any big face, then maybe it costs four or five months of hartaal, curfew, and stone pelting. Then, after everything will be forgotten. Only names will be remembered. And blue-collar remembers only horrible nights and bloody days (accompanied with blood). Restless nights, empty plates, jobless days and stinky clothes are hard to keep away yourself from remembering. I know what empty plate’s sound is like; what stinky clothes smell like.
Everybody wants freedom and so do I. But I have been caged by ghosts in this room. I can’t go outside to earn, instead of bread maybe they will gift me DEATH. Living inside this room will turn me to ashes; will be blown by the wind, like I never existed. Where to go, outside or remain here confined?
Actually! Where to die here or under blue sky? Terrible dilemma isn’t it? I just want to shrink, return back to my mother’s womb and disappear there. Like I never came and lived here. In which form death will descend, I don’t even know. I got freedom, only to choose my death place. I just want my end, like I lived here. With scarred hands and tiredness, I want to hug death fearlessly.
Before breathing my last, with fractured words, I want to reveal something to the souls that are yet to come to this physical world. Beg your God: to bestow you a physical structure of anything, but not that of a human. Humans are super beings, without freedom. Be something else, may be an animal. They don’t fear death. They fight and kill for their freedom, till they get it. They embrace death rather than being caged.
If somehow, you have been given a human structure. Don’t end up like me – a Blue-Collar. You may like to work. But, what if there is no work out there? All out there will be, death roaming like a mad dog. Inside, there will be a company of haunting hunger, which will scare you with sounds of empty plates. The death will be waiting outside for you and haunting hunger will slowly choke you within. No one will come to your rescue. People are busy with other things, which is more important than saving a BLUE-COLLAR’s life.
World has got enough Blue-Collar’s, and rather than being a Blue-Collar, be nothing!
This is a work of fiction. (Author’s views are his own)