Velu was an eleven year old boy. He ran away from home because his father was addicted to drinking. He used to beat him and his sister and snatched whatever they earned.
When he reached the Chennai Station by Kanyakumari Express, he got down and sat on a bench. He had never before seen so many people. The noise was terrible. He was feeling tired, miserable and hungry. He had neither money nor ticket.
Suddenly he heard the rough voice of a girl around his own age. The girl was carrying a big bag. She was picking up plastic cups and putting them into the sack. Her name was Jaya. She sat down next to him. She said she could find some food for him to eat. She stood up to go. Velu had nowhere else to go. So he ran after her.
She took him on to a bridge. Velu peeped over the railing. Jaya warned him not to get caught otherwise he would be in jail. His bare feet burned on the hot tar road as he walked.
They finally stopped in front of a big building. Behind the hall was a garbage heap. The girl picked up a crushed banana and a vada which Velu ate unwillingly. He felt better.
Jaya and Velu walked along the roads and came to a bridge across a dirty drain. They came to a row of huts built out of wood, plastic and sheets. It was Jaya’s village. She dumped her sack there and gave him a pair of old shoes, a sack and stick.
He wondered what work she wanted him to do. She told him that they were rag pickers. They collected things from rubbish bins-paper, plastic and glass. It was sold to Jaggu, a junk dealer. Velu had no option. He decided to work as a rag picker until he found a better job.