The Common Dustbin: a short story

The Common Dustbin

The Common Dustbin by Uroosa Kashif

“There, there she threw the litter in my dustbin. I’ll confront her today! That diaper throwing bitch, how dares she put her garbage in my bin.” Aapa slid her wrinkled feet into a pair of Hawaiian sleepers and buttoned the front of her asphalt-grey georgette Burqa in haste; the top button went into the wrong hole, creating an indentation in the button pattern.

Aapa ran after a silhouette she had never seen before, white Kurta and black Shalwar were barely noticed. The silhouette had moved with a speed of light, Aapa was quick, but by the time she reached the site, the silhouette was already gone, and right there, in her maroon plastic dustbin, laid a diaper, full of pale-yellow fluid.

“That bitch, couldn’t even put a garbage bag on it,” the breakfast she had eaten three hours ago found its way back to her throat and she struggled to push it down again.

“God forbid,” she covered her nose with her Burqa stroller and went home cursing the one had done this.

“Black Shalwar, white Kurta, black Shalwar white Kurta…. That bitch was sleek, I’ll find her. God knows where these broads are farmed, what land grows this kind, complete failures, complete wastes—we, in our times had never seen the face of a baby diaper, I would get up ten times a night to water-rinse my kids’ behinds. But never packed any of my children, God forbids, we wouldn’t do this kind of cruelty to our children, we raised them better. But this young lot, these college-going mothers, they are of no use…finding their bloody ways in everything. Now look at that botch, she never walks two feet ahead to secure the garbage in the municipality bin, stays in her door frame, aims at my bin and launches the horror in. I didn’t install it outside my house just to see everyone’s dinner menu… It is for my own crap. And that stench, that God awful stench, which brews from the loaded monstrosity all day, seek Allah’s refuge from that, you can’t stand it if you are human.”

Aapa never paused unless she had said everything she wanted to say, the neighborly women who kept listening with patience finally came to a conclusion. “None of us has a baby who wears a diaper Aapa the new tenants in the corner have two little kids. She must be the one”.

Of course, the new tenants!

“Tell me, are the diapers small or large?” the neighborly women acquired with great enthusiasm once the garbage had been taken by the janitor.

“They are bigger than the smallest size, I have seen small. Small is very small, but these are not that small. They are a size-big. And the substance……” she wrinkled her nose like she could smell the diaper under her nose, “it’s like a child’s’, you know it’s still flowing, and not very solid. Must be of a kid’s who’s still on breast milk”.

The neighborly woman listened with great interest and suggested Aapa that she should go talk to the golden-gate-women. So Aapa woke up early that day. The 7 O’ Clock was the exact time when that diaper thrower has been appearing for a month.

The flare of her black satin Burqa swirl two feet ahead, she tossed the ruffled ends of the black idiocy a step further before she planted a step on the wet concrete. Aapa had really learnt to do the catwalk—in her shape hugging, bosom flaunting Burqa. The face was tightly cupped in a relatively small strand of black satin; a yard or two, the stroller would barely cover the bust, Nature suspects that she wanted it to!

Aapa was heading towards the last house in her street, towards the golden metallic gate, where she, the diaper thrower, had lived. The golden-gate-woman was in her late twenties; two kids, one hanging by the butt, and the first barely walking, probably a year’s difference in the ages of both. Given that she was young, she was an easy prey.

Aapa decided to launch herself on the young mother and propelled a few quick steps towards the house, swirling the ruffled bottom of her Burqa. The golden gate was shut closed. She pushed hard on the doorbell button and it sounded like a puppy that has been shot in the head.

Chiyaaoon Chiyaaoon Chiyaaoon….

“Who’s there? A voice came behind the door…”

“Aapa! Can you open the door?”

“Aapa who?” The voice from behind the door, hesitated to ask any further.

Aapa me, Nabil’s mother, Nabil who works in Pepppsee Collaa…

“Do come in…”  the lock was opened from inside.

Aapa pushed the half-opened gate inside. The house was the same she had visited several times. She had matters with old tenants so either she was found in their house, or they were found in hers. Though the walls and doors were the same, the furniture was new. The sofas were fresh, and the shelves have been recently polished. She recognized the sweet smell of processed-wood-furniture staining. Huge chandeliers were hung on four places in the drawing room and two refrigerators were visible. Kitchen’s door was half shut, but Aapa could see that the old cabinets have been repainted and the door knobs were new.

The golden-gate-woman was wearing white Kurta and a ruffled black Shalwar hanging to her toes, black velvet Khussa was paired with the dress, she was missing a Dupatta. Probably this is why she was staying behind the doors.

“Come in Aapa.” The lights suddenly flickered to life, and the enormous rectangular drawing room was made bright to welcome her. “Please sit.” Golden-gate-women pointed towards the right side.

Aapa sat and within a split second scanned the whole room. The mahogany wood cabinets were upgraded with French glass sliding doors, inside some ivory pieces were placed. On the right wall, a calligraphy piece was hung; the carpets were so soft Aapa felt her feet penetrating in the fiber. On the left wall, an LED was mounted on the wall.

“Where are your kids? You have two I believe?”

“They are asleep, long afternoons, it’s too hot outside, and kids don’t know how to kill time, so I put them to sleep, poor generation can’t explore life to the fullest. We used to roam around in the whole neighborhood, and no one would say anything. Should I increase the cooling?” And without pausing a moment, the golden-gate-women rose and adjusted the fan of the AC, the cold air was now hitting Aapa’s face.

“Good old times.” Aapa added.

“How many you have; I’ve seen Nabil on the roof a few times. He was flying kite with a neighborly boy the other day. Actually, I was feasting on fresh mangoes, the (farmers) had brought 3 crates yesterday, you want some? Let me pack some for you.” She vanished into the kitchen and came back with a jute bag full of mangoes. The fragrance alone had made Aapa crazy. That will be minimum ten kilos, Aapa gauged the weight of the bag with her eyes.

“I have Three, Nabil is the youngest. Girls are older, but I have ridden them off in marriage. The younger one had such a big mouth.”

“You would like tea or lemonade?”

“Pepppsee…” Aapa proposed without wasting a second.

“Two minutes,” she went to the far-left corner of her house and brought a glass full of black soda, two heart shaped ice cubes floating in the French wine glass. Aapa sipped a few casks, the cool conditioned air, the comfortable sofa, the chemical aftertaste of black soda, all of it was too comforting for her. Suddenly the yellow monstrosity began to fade from her vision, the garbage became less disturbing and the agenda she had to discuss was bleached away.

Sun was benign; the last night’s rain had snatched its warmth. It showed up, but without its usual warmth. The hard rain had soaked the concrete to a level where anyone could actually see the moisture oozing out of the paint in the form of white powder. Aapa stood at her door, as always, scanning the activities of the street when the neighborly woman came.

“Chuck chuck…” that diaper thrower tossed the monstrosity in your bin again.

“So, what, this is to put garbage in…” Aapa carelessly stated, throwing a bag full of mango peel in the same bin.


The Common Dustbin

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