This poem is a tribute to the countless  waste pickers in India. As someone who works in the space of community radio and the informal waste workers, this poem stems from the urge to call attention to the waste picking community in the country.

So what if I am a waste picker, On the never ending road, where no one walks…

So what if I am a waste picker Walking on a cold street, Lonesome, yet proud

So what if I am a waste picker I am the one treading my own path Reaching out for the scraps, so carelessly tossed out

So what if I am a waste picker With bruised hands, hoarded tears, Pained silences, vacant thoughts and fatigued feet I am the one lifting, stirring, picking,cleaning and changing…

So what if I am a waste picker… 

I rise with every fall I rise with very obstacle 

I rise through your dominance I rise through your ignorance 

I rise through your caste based hypocrisy and discrimination 

I rise through the depths of a hollow marriage, of  the system

 I rise through the myopic vision of the authorities calling shots on the city’s waste management

 I rise through the names you call me 

I rise through the mixed waste you throw out I rise with every spent energies and rigid stances

I strive, I soar, I push, I rise,

For I have a voice I have a name,

I am who I am I am the waste picker, charting new frontiers

–Pinky Chandran, March 2017