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Mainstream, Vol XLV, No 30

Ode to a Garbage Bin

by S.G. Vombatkere

Saturday 14 July 2007


This poem has been sent by Major General (retired) S.G. Vombatkere with a letter that reads: “Garbage Cess is being collected with effect from January 1, 2007 for door-to-door collection of garbage but the Garbage Bins
at street corners are still in the same sorry state that they were in.”

This evidently has provoked him to compose the following lines. He retired from military service in 1996, from the post of Additional DG (Discipline and Vigilance) in Army HQ, New Delhi. He currently lives in Mysore.

Dear little Garbage Bin,
- I can see the mess you’re in!
- Marked “MUDA” or “MCC”
- Your fate’s as sorry as can be.
- People fling their waste at you;
- Kitchen waste and plastics too.
- Dogs and pigs and cows and crows
- Browse in the garbage; and it shows
- How people are not agitated
- If their neighbourhood is decorated
- With plastic bags and kitchen waste
- Flung by servants with undue haste
- At you, dear Garbage Bin.
- Oh, what a sorry state you’re in!

Even though you don’t complain
- When garbage spills in the roadside drain
And never are you kept quite clean;
- Mysore town has never seen
- Roads and streets being litter-free
- In recent public memory.
- Garbage Bins are ill-treated;
- At every corner one is greeted
- With a full or half-filled stinking bin
- (And here are details of the sin);
- Rubbish does the bin surround
- Covering every inch of ground
- With a reeking, stinking, sorry mess
- That (surely any child will guess)
- Violates the Rights of Garbage Bins
- By the Corporation’s deadly sins.
- But let us not get into fights;
- Garbage Bins have Legal Rights
- To be cleaned and treated well,
- As any advocate will tell.
- With other Bins do have communion
- And quickly form a Labour Union
- To stand up for your legal right
- And fight injustice with your might.
- Plead with the Court, praying thus:
- “Issue a Writ of Mandamus
- To the Official, whoe’er he be
- That Garbage Bins shall be kept quite free
- Of stinking garbage all around.
- And if any such is found
- The Court shall straight’way without fail
- Put that gentleman in Jail.”

- Sure, you’re in a sorry mess.
- But even you must now confess
- That unless you stand up for your right
- And fight the fight with all your might,
- Officials will quite ignore you
- And change the City of Mysooru
- From “Garden City” to “Garbage City”
- And swallow money (more’s the pity!).

- I’m sorry to write at such great length;
- But I pray that it will give you strength
- To fight against the Men of Sin
- And get out o’ the stinking mess you’re in!
- So fight it out, keep up your chin,
- Dear little Garbage Bin.

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