Priceless Life!5 mins 71 5 mins 71
The green crushed glass looked desolate in one corner of the room. Only this morning, the glass was shaped in perfect circular bangles, that she had bought from the chhodiwala only two days ago, that adorned her dusky wrists, just above her palms, turned rough with all the hard work in cement and mortar. The small earthen lamp was shedding its dull light in another corner. The dingy, dimly lit room with no windows was reeking with mixed odours of poverty- smoke from the coal 'Chulah', tears of the family, the stale fragrance of the few marigolds that were sparsely scattered on the floor.
They had both gone to work this morning, saying goodbye to their little one, who would stay in the church shelter for the day. She had carried their lunch in a small basket, some rotis tied in a red napkin and some onions and green chillies. They had hurriedly caught the bus that took them to the new site, a little outside of town. They had parted ways at the gate, he fondly moving his hand over her bangles as, she pulled her hand away from his, looking at him with mock disapproval. They were poor, but they were deeply in love since the day they had met eight years ago on a site similar to this one, only on the opposite end of town.
She used to work with her elder sister, back then. The second sibling in the total of six, she had been used to this life since her childhood. Her parents used to carry the sisters to the construction sites every day, the elder ones taking care of the younger ones, while all of them played on the mounds of mortar and crushed rocks. When she was twelve years old, her father had caught T. b and died. The burden of the entire family rested on the shoulders of her mother, the elder sister, then fourteen who had to take her father's place, both at work and at home. While mother and the elder sister went to work, the responsibility of the home and her younger sisters fell on her. She had learnt to do household chores at a very young age. Life was going ok for all of them until tragedy struck again when she was only fifteen.
One day, when they were coming back home, her mother and sister had been attacked by four drunk men. Her mother had sacrificed herself, in order to save her eldest daughter. What happened to their mother was anyone's guess. But the tragedy was that they never recovered her mother's body. The sisters kept hoping that their mother would return home someday. But after a couple of years, that hope had begun to diminish. The two eldest sisters then took over their parents role. She started going to work with her elder sister. After about a year, she had met him on a construction site. For them both, it was love at first sight.
But she had her younger sisters to take care of. And she couldn't burden her elder sister with the whole family's responsibility. And so, they both waited, till her sisters were grown up enough to be on their own. They had then gotten married, with her elder sister's blessings and she had gone to live in his tiny shanty. He was an orphan. He was thrilled at her to bring his wife. He used to love to keep looking at her, as she turned the little one-room into their home. He loved the crinkle of her bangles as she moved around the house. Shortly after they got married, they had been blessed with a little boy. When he had first held him in his arms, he had cried, saying to her that he was the luckiest man alive. He had everything he ever wished for. He now had a family. She was touched by his words. They had together, made plans for their baby. They would send him to school, they would work hard to give him a better future. They would not make him like themselves, a construction worker with no education. They would see him grow and succeed, as they grew old together. They would promise this every night.
But today, he had broken his promise, for the first time in all these years, he had broken a promise he had made to her. She wanted to fight with him, to question him for abandoning her. She wanted to shake him and slap him. But he had gone far beyond any of that. She had seen him fall. His tether was loose, and the freak accident happened right in front of her eyes. The puny, weak helmet had crushed to a thousand pieces, not able to protect his skull from banging against the hard concrete floor, as he had tumbled 12 storeys down. She had witnessed him falling and she had frozen. All she did was look at his helpless body falling down. She had held his lifeless body in the ambulance. She had looked with empty eyes as the doctors pronounced him dead on arrival. And now all she could do was stare at the crushed green glass. Something inside her had snapped when his head had finally struck the concrete pavement. That day she had realised that the life of the poor is cheaper than the heavenly abodes of the rich. That day, she realised, it was not just concrete and steel that went into these towering mansions. It was also the blood and sweat of the poor men and women, building those mansions. That day, she had realised the price of her life... It was nothing!