Pushing her wooden cart around, the whispers barely registered. She continued rummaging through the bins left outside in the neighborhood. Anything looking almost usable, she picked up, surveyed it in detail and put it into her cart. Any scraps of paper, wood, metal or anything that could be recycled she collected and kept in her now almost full cart.
She didn’t mind when the house owners stared at her as she went through their garbage. She usually made sure she kept their bin and its area clean, leaving nothing out of place.. She was ever thankful if the owners made it easier for her by separating their garbage into two bags, recycleable and non recycleable items. Then she wouldn’t have to get down and dirty.
Every day she will visit different neighborhood area, revisiting the area once a fortnight. She didn’t want to get to familiar with the people living there. Once she’s finished with the collecting, she would drag that cart of hers to her favourite spot, a hidden spot from prying eyes. A nook under a tree just by the curb at the deserted playground. The playground seldom saw visitors of late eversince a child got abducted in broad day light. No one suspected her nor did anyone want to do anything to her. She could be obscure when she wanted to.
There, at her ‘headquarters’ as she’d call it, she’d dilligently sort out the materials that are practically in good shape, materials that can be saved, recycled or used for herself. Looking at her loot that day, she thought to herself she made quite an impressive job. Calculating roughly, she estimated that she could at least get around 15 ringgit for her work. That would be enough for some food to buy for a few days and a tiny sum put aside for rainy days. And maybe if she was careful enough, that would hold up for when she hardly got anything.
Life’s tough. But at least she isn’t starving. Neither is she stealing money, cheating other people, murdering anyone, begging nor selling herself. Though she’s barely making ends meet but her conscience is clear.
Heaving her carefully sorted loot into her cart, she began to push her cart towards the rows of shoplots. The cart rattling and protesting at each step, bringing evidence of its old age. She was thankful that it had stayed intact all these while and had been a blessing in disguise many a times.
Approaching the nearest shop building, she suddenly stopped in her tracks. She could see a group of boys skating at the vacant lot where she uses to sleep and eat at night. One of the boys caught her eye. Her heart skipped.
He came today, she thought.
She didn’t dare move. She felt as though any movement from her would cause the boys to run and scatter like leaves in the wind.
No use trying to clean herself up. The clothes on her back is one out of the three she owned. She used to have drawers upon drawers of clothes. Fine costumes that she loved to put on and preen for hours. Used to being the operative word. She sighed. And her shoulders sagged. She turned away from the boys and decided to find another place to rest while waiting for them to return home.