Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The Dustbin

Her cubicle was always in a state of perpetual mess. No matter what time of the day, week, month or year, heaps of paper-work and files always remained untidily stacked on her desk. It wasn’t that she was not a fast worker; in fact, she worked more efficiently than most of her colleagues. She just happened to take on more work than necessary in an attempt to dislodge the burden from others’ shoulders. She was everyone’s favourite in the office. Even those who were not from her department had a good opinion of her. After all, no matter how drained she was, she always had a warm smile to spare for those who looked her way.  Even when things became chaotic, especially during crunch-times, she continued to remain the perfect picture of calm. It did not matter how deep the mess was! She always managed to step in and clear it in a manner that was so flawless that one could not even believe that there had been a muddle in the first place.

Things were no different in the personal front. Her friends always turned to her for comfort in times of distress. No matter how messed up things appeared to be, she always managed to clear the clutter. Everyone came to her with their problems and she always lent a patient ear to their worries. She was the first person on everyone’s list of “Emergency Contact” – they knew she could be counted on in the case of any kind of urgency.

She was always surrounded by friends, family-members and well-wishers. Despite that, she always felt alone. No matter how hard she tried, she could never pinpoint the reason why.

He was a silent worker who was way too engrossed in his own world. He had no time for others. He came to office, did only what he was required to do, and then left as soon as his work was done. He did not like wasting time socializing with others nor did he like to offer a helping hand. He kept to himself because no one really bothered talking to him or involving him in conversations beyond the necessary.

When he was taking breaks between works, he often used to observe the people around him. She was always an object of fancy. Her actions always amazed him! As an outsider, he could see what was happening to her. He saw the smile on her face that did not completely reach her eyes. He knew she had a lot to say. Her eyes expressed it all but what was the point? No one listens to you unless you resolve to make your voice heard. In all these years, she had become so accustomed to listening to others that she no longer knew what it was like to be heard for a change. He noticed those moments when she opened her mouth, perhaps, to say something, but shut it again because no words came out. No one encouraged her to speak. Why would they? The purpose of a dustbin is to clear the trash around. It does its job extremely well and makes the surrounding area neat and clean. However, when the dustbin wants to talk, no one wants to go near it. Who wants to go near the foul-stinking rubbish? No one! 
She was everyone’s dustbin. They went to her for disposing their garbage. She fulfilled no other purpose in their life.

He could see her restlessness. He noticed her jumpiness. She was slowly turning out to be less good-tempered than she used to be. He smiled as he noticed that change – there comes a point of time when even the best of people snap. Perhaps, her time was nearing.

He wondered if he could do something to assist her. She, after all, seemed to be in no position to help herself. No one likes emptying a litter-bin but it is a job that someone just has to do.  He just wasn't sure if he was ready to get his hands dirty and clear the waste…


  1. Oh, oh, oh, oh!
    Touching many and different chords, are we!

  2. Very well written Divya, there are many layers to this post. Sometimes we need to de-clutter our minds so that we can move on lighter in the journey of life...this post made me reflect a lot..

    1. Glad it did so :) And especially happy to see you tried interpreting the various layers to this post instead of just remaining stuck on the story at the surface :)

  3. oh loved it Divya! very well written, actually echo the previous commenter's sentiments.

  4. Wow ... love the metaphorical contexts in this piece !!!