‘Ladies and gentlemen! Let me introduce you to the love of my life….
…my dear dustbin…, my lovely dustbin!


Don’t worry. In a few minutes, it’ll be all clear to you. And you’ll find out that not only me but many amongst you also are madly in love with your dustbins. Many amongst you have a ‘dustbin love story’.
……And on December 25, 2010, one such love story changed the life of a 7 year old boy, forever.
Let me tell you his story’.

His mother used to call him ‘Kanha’. And, yes! That boy really had such a content smile that probably only Lord Krishna could have . . .

To Dear Dustbin……..With Love!

11:30 PM .This is the night of Christmas; a freezing cold night. And this boy, Kanha, is standing on the road in front of a high profile glittery restaurant in Cannught place. He is trying to look inside through the glass panes. He is shivering. His fingertips are all blue. In the name of clothes he has a thin vest and a soiled pant over his body. But in spite of that, ignoring the killing chill, his eyes are jumping from one table to another. He is restless. He is probably searching for something. . . What’s there on the table? . . . The tables are beautifully decorated with shining crockery. People are enjoying their lavish meals.

And suddenly there is a screeching noise from the right hand side. The boy tumbles and looks at it. It’s a garbage truck that just left after picking the bags of garbage from the restaurant. Slowly the truck fades away in the busy roads of Cannught Place. But there is something on the road… a bag …oh! It had probably fallen out of the truck. There is a sudden rush in his body… may be this is what he is looking for. He runs towards it. Reaching it he starts searching in the bag. What’s in there? There are packets of waste food, broken crockery and a number of used shiney cotton napkins. His eyes stop at the napkin. He is looking at it curiously.

There is a pause.

And he smiles. There is a certain spark of hope in his eyes. He picks it up and starts licking it. LICKING IT!! That’s weird! Yes! He is licking the leftover food that has stuck on that napkin. He licks it all up and picks up another one! And again he is licking it; the Durbaan notices him and shouts to scare him away. But this is not going to scare him…. Ignoring all this, full of energy, he is just licking it all.

Slick! Slick!. . . Pink napkins, a pink tongue and blue fingers!. . . 3 Napkins done. He picks the 4th one up. Even the Durbaan now wonders why, the hell, he is not eating from the packets of waste food. But undisturbed Kanha continues to lick the napkins. Neither the scary Durbaan nor the chill seems to have any effect on him. The 7th one. . . Slick! Slick!..

15th one done! . . . He has licked all the napkins that he had pulled out of the bag. He searches for more. But there are no more napkins left now. He quickly takes one napkin up and spreads on the road. The translucent stains, created by the play of human saliva on food remains, are clearly visible on the napkin. He picks another one up , spreads it, side by side, just adjacent to the first one and starts tying the adjacent edges of the two napkins.

Oh! My dear Lord! There is a plan, for sure.

He spreads the third one and places it in the same line extending the rectangle; again he ties the adjacent edges. And he continues attaching one napkin to another

With each new napkin added to the arrangement, the vigor in his efforts is rising too; the shine of his wide opened eyes is developing brighter and brighter.

…And finally he has tied them all together. It looks like a big 4x4 sheet of napkins. That’s amazing! . . . Wait a minute! He needs one more napkin; there is gap at the very centre. He needs a sixteenth napkin.

He starts looking for more napkins. The bag is still there on the road. He searches the bag all again. No napkin in there. It had only 15 napkins; all already tied up in the sheet. He looks at the road. No napkin there too. He runs back to restaurant! Its1 AM; the restaurant is already closed.
He needs a dirty worthless piece of cloth ….He is praying to the God to throw some damned garbage on him; he needs a dirty napkin.

Alas! There are no more napkins.

What to do!

He is very desperate.

He looks at his vest…

…There is pause…

In that killing chill, his fingers have already lost sensation; his body is gradually turning blue. . . He takes his vest off and ties it at the centre of the sheet.

Look at him! He is smiling! The sheet is complete. Full of energy, he starts running, holding the sheet. In that chill, half naked, he is running with joy, as fast as he can. He has forgotten the cold, the shiver, but he is running…

Where is he going?

First red light crossed . . .
The second one crossed . . .
And he stops.

Oh! This is the PUSA road. This place is pretty popular. It was in news, recently. MCD had PROUDLY demolished the night shelters of 250 odd people one week ago.

He reaches near a pile. Torn pieces of shirts, pants, some jute sacs etc. have been piled up; it’s a pile of torn clothes.

No! Wait a second! It’s not just a pile. This is his mom suffering from fever.

The 7 year old boy had covered his mom with what ever he could find. But rite now he is happy. He has brought a sheet for his mom to keep her warm. He covers her with it . . . smiles . . . and hugs her.

“Ma, it’ll keep you warm . . .
You don’t need to worry any more . . .

Now onwards every thing would be fine. I am always there for you . . .

Do you remember those days when we used to help dad in selling napkins like these?. . .

I really miss him Maa . . .

I know you also miss him a lot . . .

You miss him na, Mama?. . .
Mama! . . .

MOM! . . .

Why is your hand so cool?



Although he is just 7 years old, but the time has taught him a lot. The boy is still. He knows what has happened.

It is 1 AM in night. Mercury is crying 4 degree Celsius. Half naked, the boy looks at his hands. They look bluish. He can’t feel them now. He is shivering.

He notices the vest that he had tied on the sheet to cover his dear mom.

There is a pause.

He looks at his mom. She is looking in the sky . . . He kisses her fore-head . . . hugs her . . . takes a deep sigh . . . and closes his eyes. Slowly the bodily sensations are fading away. A deaf darkness is taking over him. And he sleeps.

Probably slept for ever . . .

Do you know where that bloody 16th napkin was?
That dirty, stinking and worthless napkin, which probably could had saved Kanha’s mom or probably some one else out of those 833 poor people that die every 24 hrs in India.

Do you know where it was?


A story by,
Apoorve Khandelwal

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