More segregation, more money

“All wastes to be segregated from next week, wet in one, dry in the other” I tried to sound casual and matter-of-fact. After all, I could not afford to give an impression of ‘extra work’ to one of the most important and hard- to- please persons in my life, namely my maid.

‘Yes, akka, apartment aunty has already told me about it. She has also bought two different colored bins so that there is no confusion’ I heaved a sigh of relief. For once, I didn’t flinch at the mention of ‘apartment aunty’ who has managed to drive a wedge between me and my maid. I have been constantly hearing about her from the past few months, how she lives in a ‘two-house’ house which actually meant two flats combined into one, in my maid Manju’s words. About how her flat had a biometric system to gain entry, her two daughters who lived abroad and spoke on Skype (‘ I can see them so clearly, hear them too, just can’t touch!’),her beautiful sarees and her perfectly groomed looks. ‘She must be elder to you but looks so much younger!’ Seeing my hurt expression, she had consoled me’ Of course, it all that beauty parlor effect, for which you don’t have time for’.

But anyways, the task of garbage segregation was now clear to all. Two brightly colored bins were bought, labeled and installed, one in the kitchen and another in utility. Vegetable peels were carefully examined to see if they could be turned into yummy chutneys.’No tearing of papers, use the other side to do math sums. No bringing in parcels, it’s a pain separating the banana leaf, wrapping paper and thread. Carry a tiffin-box instead. No throwing away cream jars, use them to store ear-rings’. Instructions flew back and forth.

The wet-bin kept near the gate disappeared. It must be tempting to see the brightly colored bin and not want to take it away. An old plastic box was retrieved. The ‘dry’ waste slowly started accumulating in the backyard and nobody had a clue what to do with it. ‘Put the wet in my bin, all covers separate. No plastic is allowed’ the pourakarmika was very clear. Got late for work a few days waiting for her to show up. On other days, the garbage piled up when we could no longer wait and had to leave for work. ‘It is alright, if a little effort on our part is going to make our city cleaner, it is worth it’. Slowly, it became routine to be careful what waste got dropped where.

Things started settling down and a sense of contributing to a cleaner city became a passion. Manju happily contributed by helping out as much as she could. One month later, she eyed the salary suspiciously. ‘Apartment aunty gave Rs. 100 extra. You can give Rs.75’ she magnanimously declared.” After all, putting waste into two bins takes extra time and I need to be compensated for that!’

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