My morning drive to the office is my time to recapitulate my thoughts for my writing spree for the entire day. Yes, if I don’t write something I consider that day to be waste – such is one of the idiosyncrasies that make up me!

Anyways, coming back to today’s drive – it was nothing new, the same old route, the same old bus stop, and the same old signals. Even the same old street urchin scrap pickers – but then today they set me thinking. Not about the plight or the state of affairs, for somewhere I am tired of musing about those conditions and have resolved not to talk till I act!

As I looked at a little girl digging through a pile of scrap, I couldn’t help but smile when she ecstatically took out a small broken doll from beneath a heap of tattered bottles and clothes. The joy on her face clearly showed that she had hit gold! You might find it odd but actually her child like exuberance made me feel happy for her. For once I forgot about the hand-downs and the depleted childhood she is living and was feeling happy for her. Happy at the fact that she found her joy in the most unexpected place early in the morning and also sure that she would cling on to that little toy, show it off to her friends, make them jealous and all this while the smile would remain intact on her face. She would forget her pains, her losses, and her unequal societal status for a few days to come and all because of the little piece of scrap, which to her today is the most precious find!

But then as the lights turned green and I moved on I couldn’t help but wonder whether any scrap sorting has ever enthralled me! Yes it has I came to recall today. I used to wait for Didi to spring clean her cupboard and throw out useless stuff – where I would often find a single earring; it’s pair being lost which I could hang on my soft board. Or I could find a scarf, which was not worthy of her tresses any more and hence picked up by me to be used as a headgear for my doll. Then there were instances when Grandmother would move places and during packing and unpacking of those huge trunks and boxes I would trotter around the house at her heels, asking her if I could keep this and that. Either elated at coming to live with us or sad at the departure, she never refused and hence I took full advantage of the situation to fill in my kitty with what Mumma and Didi considered scrap and me prized possessions!

Later when I came in close contact with animals and fell in love with anyone who had droopy eyes, each one of them added to my ‘lost in scrap’ theory. While there was a special one who would love to dig into bins and always emerge out victorious with an unhealthy gem which would set his housekeeper (Am sorry but I don’t consider that one can own any living being and hence don’t refer to people who keep pets as owners. However, I am not sorry for referring to the dog as ‘his’ for I still have a Ruskin Bond hangover and like him believe that animals should also be referred through their gender and not as ‘it(s)’!) on her feet to make him truly realize that it was scrap!

I have been at the other end too, when while spring cleaning my room in Jodhpur I used to have a heap of all-that-will-be-replaced-during-stay-at-home and also had Suman (my maid’s daughter) trotting at my feet to help me and pester me with her incessant ‘yeh le lun didi?’! While I laughed at some of what she picked, rebuked her for piling on scrap, I did ask her at times the usual ‘kya karogi tum iska?’ but guess the ecitement to visit home was so high that I don’t exactly remember why she struck gold each time in my pile of scrap!

Today again it happened to me. Long after I stepped into my office and forgotten all about the little girl and her smile was lost in the pile of mails that I had to revert to – I took a coffee break to ease my mind. As I logged in to my mail account, like usual days I checked the spam folder – for I hate if any folders have unread and unsorted mails! There, amidst what I consider hilariously irritating mails, lay a hidden life changing mail. What might be considered gibberish by a lot of my peers to me it is my most precious find today.

So I am officially a reviewer now for the Educational Research Journals (www.interesjournals.org). Yes, it does feel weird to be reviewing papers instead of writing them, but I am so elated!

So have you ever sorted through scrap and found a gem?

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