As my weary eyes scavenged the bottom of that trash bin, my 5 year old kept pulling my tattered rags, reminding me of his existence and hunger. I kept going deeper. My feet started to lose the ground. My son was waiting for me in despair. His mother might come out with a surprise – a bread or a bun, may be the outer part of a pizza or maybe a half eaten chicken wing. Anything! A few meters away, cried another 1 year old, barely alive. The scavenging birds waited on this tiny lump of flesh and bones as she kicked the air and wailed, waiting to be breast fed. The food chain in this part of the world was more like an intertwined mesh, specially in the winters. Oh! The cruel, dry and ashy winters.
Winters were the toughest because people didn’t waste much food in that season. The shelf life of everything was higher in winters, except for the poor. Last winter, hunger had taken my husband. Like an undesired flashback, this winter was no different.
I scraped though the last layer of polythene bags. There was nothing. Thinking about the next trash that would not come before next morning, my hands suddenly touched a small disc like thing – a cookie. My limbs froze momentarily. I waited for a bit and emerged out of the bin empty handed. I looked at my son and said, “Nothing”.
He slowly walked away to join the younger one.
I dived back in.
Inside the bin, I crunched the cookie as silently as possible.
A piece of newspaper flew off the bin, pretty much summarising my story in an article, “More than 10 million die every year in India because of iron deficiency, and this year could be worse…”
The 5 year old, caught this flying newspaper and ate it.
The need to survive was evil.