Post 46, Abdullahpur Basti, Ludhiana

5:00 p.m.: I am outside the mill, chatting with Bhullan. Rachit, who has been upstairs running errands for Birjinder’s wife, comes downstairs to the mill. He tells me that the store owner who hired Dasharath had earlier asked him, Rachit, to work for him. “He was willing to pay anything to have me work at his shop. I could have asked him for as much as INR 7000.”

“How much are you earning now?” I enquire.

“INR 4000.” He replies, and adds that Birjinder provides him with food and accommodation as well.

“But why are you staying on then?” I ask perplexed.

“Ah- its complicated,” he looks away as we walk into the mill, where Vishnu is operating the grinding machine. Once inside the mill, he adds:

One of our neighbours Santosh Yadav worked as an agricultural labourer on the farm owned by Birjinder’s brother-in-law. I happened to be in Punjab looking for a job, when they needed a driver. So Santosh tipped me off and asked me to meet them. I did. They liked me, and then hired me. But after a few months, they wanted a professional driver, and they hired one. Around that time, Birjinder too was looking for someone to drive his car and run errands, and asked his brother-in-law for advice. That was when I started working for Birjinder.

I am here because Birjinder’s brother-in-law set me up with him. And I got the job there because of my neighbour Santosh Yadav: I am very grateful for his help. If I cease working for Birjinder, his brother-in-law will be upset with Santosh Yadav, who got me the job in the first place. Santosh’s credibility is at stake.

Rachit asks Vishnu for some gutkha (tobacco flakes). “You earn so much you should share it with others,” he taunts Vishnu.