Post 26, Abdullahpur Basti

8:20 p.m.: I am at Hiralal’s room, which he shares with Vishnu. Hiralal tells me he is very relieved not to be working at Kamal flour mill any more. Recounting his failed negotiations with mill-owner Birjinder for an increment, he reiterates that the pay in the new ironworks foundry in which he is working now is higher and that employees have a weekly holiday on Sundays. Hiralal settles down to cook their dinner.

9:00 p.m.: Vishnu returns. He informs Hiralal that Birjinder has been infuriated with his decision to leave. Earlier today, Birjinder screamed at Mevalal for not being able to persuade Hiralal to stay. He and his brother then tried to force Mevalal to take them to Hiralal’s new place of work. Feigning ignorance, Mevalal refused to go with them.

According to Vishnu, Birjinder’s anger at Hiralal is exacerbated by the demonetisation policy announced yesterday by Prime Minister Modi. Cheerfully, he infers that the demonetisation of high-currency notes means that the hundreds of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes that Birjinder must have stocked away are now worthless. Moreover, a very important customer paid for his product in the demonetised 1000-rupee notes.

“Dumpy (Birjinder’s nickname) couldn’t refuse him. But if one of us had done it, we would have been in deep trouble.