Steps on stairs (Sirite Pa)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Five more floors to go. Only five more. Each of the floors can be reached by twenty steps on the stairs. Ten of them and he can get to the landing. A few seconds, a few steps and a little rest in climbing. He can stop there for few seconds if he likes, but then need to climb the rest few stairs to reach the next floor. It is around 1:00 PM now. He never mistakes the time. During the long experience in his work, he never looked at the clock. He never wear a watch either. Or, better said, not wear a watch when there is no special occasion, for the work he does, the wrist watch cannot be worn on his wrist.

He is concentrating on the stairs. The stairs are already a bit slippery for the sand and dust on them. The stairs are pretty wide. Three four men like him can ride them at a time. He is panting a bit. Panting due to the restlessness, the lack of air, and the tremendous humidity, normal in Kolkata in these days.

There is rain sometimes, but in the month of June, the humidity reaches it's maximum. The weather is cloudy, air is heavy and hot. As hot as 38 degree Celsius. May be it seems so hot as he is working for long. May because he is feeling hungry like hell. May be because he need to breath some air, need some rest, need a few puffs on his favourite handmade Indian cigarette, known as "biri". Ah! If he could stop now for a while, he thought in himself. Unknowingly he argued against the thought, he is not supposed to think like this. He is not allowed to, he is a worker, in work, and need to finish the work in due time.

He has just crossed the sixth floor. This is his last trip. After this, he will go down to the basement, where they report every morning to the supervisor. The supervisor will take his thumb impression. He will get the pay for today, and will have his lunch. He has will have lunch at a temporary canteen made for them near the construction venue. Rice, dal, one vegetarian dish made of potatoes, brinjals, etc. a piece of onion, two green chillies.He is feeling the crave for that food rapidly growing in him. He doesn't like that food very much but that is all he can afford here. After having his lunch, he will get back home. His wife cooks rice in the evening. They will eat some at night and will keep some in water for the next morning. Early morning, he eats this wet rice with salt, some hot dishes cooked early by his wife and daughter and comes to his work.

He is around 50 years in age. He is not supposed to work here according to the supervisor, as it takes to much of physical labour for a man of his age. He requested, argued and finally got the work. He needs this work as the payment is much better than the normal works he does. As this work continues longer than the works he get locally. As he can earn enough from this work to save some more for his two daughters, one of them is going to be married very soon when the other has been already married.

Seventh floor has been reached. He is in full concentration on the steps. But, he is getting distracted sometimes. His son-in-law has gone to Kerala, a place far from West Bengal, almost 2000 Km. away. He earns better money there. He wanted to take his father-in-law with him, but he didn't agree. The money may be high, but he need to stay with his family. He opted to come to sector V instead. The software tecnology park, where new high rises are being built and for him, the pay is much better than his locality. He is a masonry supply worker, the kind of people who supplies the required materials to the brick layerers. He also knows how to prepare the mortar with cement and sand and water. He knows, how to bind the racks for masonry workers to seat on and work on a tall building. All these things he has learnt from his childhood. All these years he is working for his family. He never talk to the other workers much. They think that, he is a thinker. Well, he thinks but not as a thinker. He never argues with anyone about the present political issues, nor he comaplints about the wage he is receiving and the ratio of work and wage. He never be there in the union meetings and always try to avoid all kinds of controversy.

Only thing he belive about his life is, he is a poor man. And, like other men, he needs to work for the people he is responsible for. Sometimes, only when, in special occasions, he drinks and become a thinker. At those times he finds his life to be screwed up top to bottom and he cannot change his life.

"Nobody can change his life, his fate", he thought. "It's fate, it's God, it's the destiny. The day we born, it has been written on our forehead. No one can change that, however he tries." A deep sigh came out of him. He is feeling really exhausted, as he is crossing the ninth floor and heading towards the tenth. He need to climb the rest of the steps to reach up to the eleventh floor. There the other guy is waiting for him to carry the bag of cement to the sixteenth floor. The work is there at the sixteenth floor. The building is almost finished, so the cranes have been removed from the building. Only way to carry things up to that height is the lift. The two working lifts are meant for the people working in different offices in this building. They are very sophisticated people, so the lifts, in no way can be used for carrying the building materials. So only way it can be done is with the labours, the supply workers.

The man is sweating like anything. The bag has become heavier than ever. With is burning stomach for food, he is feeling a tremendous head ache as well. He is nearing to the tenth floor.

His legs have started trembling. The lack of water in his body due to the continuous sweating for the last one hour has made him weak. He is panting heavily. His eyes are feeling like popping out. It seems that he cannot make it to the eleventh floor. If he can call loudly, the guy at the eleventh floor may come down to help him. He doesn't want anyone to help. No one will help him to carry the load he has in his life, no one ever can. However uneven the war of life may become sometime, he cannot just wait and loose. This is his war, he needs to fight till the end.


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