The toil of Sisyphus

He climbed out of his makeshift bed, and with great difficulty rubbed his sleepy yet painful eyes. This was a routine he was more or less accustomed to. The thought of providing a cemented roof for his 5 year old and psychological security to his loving wife motivated his hands to splash cold water on his unrelenting eyes. It was 4 AM and he didn’t have the luxury of a relaxed morning routine to board the first bus to work. Hurriedly completing his morning drill, he steps out of his quarters only to find that the infamous desert winter had set in already. He covered his face with the tattered shawl, the only one which he could afford from his meager means of livelihood. Realizing that he was late by 5 minutes, he begins to jog to the bus stop which at 4.20 AM is a symbol of man’s steely will against the odds. Men and women, wearing shawls, torn pullovers and sweaters with gaping holes fighting everyday obstacles to work. Each had a story which revolved around debt, lack of education or escape from native tyranny. Fighting the winter chill, people board the first bus to the work site which is over-crowded almost as a rule than an exception. The hour long journey gives some of them an opportunity to catch up on lost sleep provided they could bear the cold winds blowing on their faces through the broken windows of the ride. Once they reach the destination, the migrant workers are welcomed with hot tea and bun which doubles up as the brunch for the day. Then begins the arduous part, lifting bricks, wood, cement and steel. Each worker is expected to put in 12 hours straight, often working against environmental and physiological impediments. The shift ends at the strike of electric horn which is made pleasant only because of what it implies – the end of the toil. Not long after the shift, the same bus arrives to carry the workers back to the city bus stop. He gets off the bus, wiping sweat from his brows. With almost a natural action he strides to the Indian tea stall at the end of the road. The hot tea was almost a constant companion through his journey in the alien land. Tea represented the experience of the peaceful scenes back home in his quiet village. He soothes his nerves with the cuppa and heads straight to his quarters. After a quick bath and a plain meal, he dropped into his makeshift bed. Happy and content that his month’s salary would contribute to the walls of his house in progress back home. This is the brief insight into the life of Sisyphus from Ramnad.


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