Lost Spring by Anees Jung tells the story of the unprivileged children. Rag pickers and child-workers are common in Indian cities. Even though Lost Spring portrays the sad picture of the plight of the poor children of India, Anees Jung is revealing another face of the Indian society through Saheb and Mukesh.
The Story of Saheb, a rag-picker from Seemapuri
Saheb was a rag picker from Seemapuri. When his family came to Seemapuri. Saheb has simple dreams. He is curious about learning. He believes the promises of the BIG people. One day suddenly Saheb was found doing another job that was out of his tradition. Having abandoned the rag picking he adopted to carrying milk to a shop that paid him decently. ₹ 800 and three meals a day. Changes!
Questions & Answers
- Which advice did the narrator give Saheb? Why did the author realize that her advice was ‘hollow?’
On meeting Saheb, the narrator advised him to go to school. But when she gave an afterthought, the author realized that the thought of going to school had never occurred to children like Saheb. For them rag-picking was more meaningful than schooling and learning so going to a school and learning was beyond their reach. When she realized this, the narrator felt that her advice was hollow.
- Why was the author embarrassed when Saheb asked her if her school was ready?
Seeing Saheb ruining his childhood picking rags, the author once asked him if he would join her school if she started one. Saheb gave her a positive answer. Another day when the two met, Saheb asked her if her school was ready. The author suddenly felt speechless as she had not meant to start a school as Saheb had expected. OR The writer, Anees Jung, had asked Saheb if he would join her school in case she had opened one and Saheb’s answer was positive. She had not expected this rag-picker as having any passion for education because she was prejudiced about this. When she saw Saheb running to her and asking if her school was ready, Anees Jung felt embarrassed.
- Why should there be a hard time for Saheb to believe the meaning of his name?
Saheb’s full name is Saheb-E-Alam which means the Lord of the Universe. Being a poor rag picker, Saheb cannot believe that the Lord of the Universe is supposed to be a rag-picker like him and therefore he will struggle to believe the meaning of his name.
- How does the author reason the barefoot tradition of the rag pickers?
The rag pickers of Seemapuri are traditionally barefooted. The author is doubtful about the origin and reasons behind this tradition of the rag pickers. She believes that it is an excuse to explain their poverty. But on the other side she sees the possibilities of the traces of an ancient tradition preserved by the poor rag pickers.
- What does the story the man from Udipi told the author tell about the blindness to traditions and religious stigma?
A man from Udipi (Udupi) once told the narrator his own story when he was a boy and his father a priest in the temple. As a young boy he would go to school past this old temple and stop briefly to pray for a pair of shoes. Thirty years later when the author visited his town and the temple, she saw a lot of modern instances in the town and lifestyle of the people. The author means to indicate the timely changes education brings to people and how the illiterate rag pickers remain unchanged, carrying the rotten traditions.
- Under what circumstances did Saheb’s family have to leave his country? (3 marks)
Saheb is a rag-picker who lives in Seemapuri on the Delhi-UP border. He came to Seemapuri from Bangladesh with thousands of others forced by natural calamities there. During that time people had to take a crucial decision in their life. On one hand they could stay back in Dhaka so that they could have a home and address and on the other they could leave their country where crop failure and draught brought them to near ruin. It was under this circumstance Saheb’s family had to leave their country.
- How is Seemapuri both near and far away from Delhi?
Seemapuri is a backward area on the periphery of Delhi. Geographically it is very close to Delhi whereas its traditions, standard of life and people are far behind the time. Delhi is the national capital territory of India so its life standards are glowing and growing. In Seemapuri one can still see the backward India where people live like animals.
- Food is more important for survival than an identity. How is this statement true in the lives of the Seemapuritan rag pickers?
Thousands of rag pickers live in Seemapuri. They do not have any identity in their society or in the country yet they are happy for the fact that here they don’t need to starve. While they were still in the draught-hit Bangladesh, they had their houses and address but they were starving. By abandoning their country of origin and reaching Seemapuri, they were deprived of their address but here they had food to eat.
- How did Seemapuri turn out to be a better place for the Bangladeshis?
Seemapuri was a deserted area when the Bangladeshis arrived here three decades ago. They were forced to come here due to the repeated famine and other disasters in Bangladesh. They loved Seemapuri because they could survive here. They had food and shelter here.
- How do you understand rag-picking having the proportions of a fine art in Seemapuri?
Like any other art form, rag-picking possesses certain talents and rules. One needs guidance and inborn talents to be a successful rag picker. He should know where to find garbage, what to take, what to ignore, what time is best for it and so on. In Seemapuri, every child is taught the essential art of rag-picking.
- ‘It seems that for children, garbage has a meaning different from what it means to their parents.’ Explain.
In Seemapuri survival means rag-picking. The elders have made it their profession for a fixed wages whereas for the children rag-picking is a game of treasure-hunting. They work through the garbage with a hope that one day they would get a gold coin or a rupee note from the garbage heap.
- Why is Saheb keenly watching the neighbourhood tennis players?
Sometime Saheb can be found outside the club watching people play tennis. He is not interested in playing tennis. He was content to watch the game from outside. He is more interested in using the swing which the gatekeeper let him use before closing.
- Whether Saheb likes or not, he is altogether changed for all his prosperity. What is the change? What does this change suggest?
Saheb was once a rag picker and now works in a tea-shop, carrying milk for a better, fixed wages. Unlike the others in his family and caste, Saheb’s willingness to opt another line of work other than the traditional way of following his lineage is a mark of change in his life.
- Why is Saheb not his own master?
Saheb was his own master when he was a rag picker. He was not accountable to anyone nor was he to work for someone. But now Saheb is working for a tea shop, having to carry milk from a milk booth. Even though he is paid Rs.800 and all his meals, Saheb has lost his freedom to roam with his friends and to be his own master.
- How does Anees Jung explain the over sensitivity of the poor rag pickers to the rich men’s promises?
Anees Jung strongly believes that the poor people are over sensitive to the promises of the rich. She had experienced this in the case of Saheb who believed the fake promise of starting a school given by her.
- How far is the change good for Saheb?
Saheb was once a carefree boy, with no responsibilities and tensions, and of course, no achievements in life. But now he is a responsible boy, earning more than anyone in his society does. While the others go on a lazy life, Saheb-e-Alam is rising to a prosperous life. Soon he will be rich and leading a different life and a model for the rest of him.