Post 47, Abdullahpur Basti, Ludhiana

3:00 p.m.: The mill is closed today, it being the last Monday of the month. Bablu, Mevalal and Kalki Prasad have gathered together for a party at Vishnu’s room, where they are roasting chicken liver as accompaniment to their drinks. A fourth person, who I do not know personally, also joins them. He lives in the same building as Vishnu. Kalki Prasad asks him to arrange some cannabis.

“No problem! I know two policemen who supply this sort of thing,” the man guffaws. “You will have it in an hour.” The man taps the keypad of his phone and speaks into it when the connection is established.

Bablu finishes his peg, and leaves the gathering to return to his own room.

4:30 p.m.: I take leave of Vishnu and his companions and leave for Bablu’s room. On the way, I see Rachit standing at the balcony of the first floor of Birjinder’s house, cleaning the window panes. We exchange greetings. I ask him why he didn’t join the others at Vishnu’s house. He shrugs and mouths, “Too much work”. Then he points his thumb to his mouth to ask if I had a peg. I affirm. He laughs and goes back to his work while I continue my way to Bablu’s room.

4:45 p.m.: Bablu is preparing his dinner. He is at it earlier than usual, since it’s a holiday. As he fries the chicken pieces, I ask him about Hiralal returning to work in the mill.

“Birjinder must have offered his a raise. Otherwise, why would he return?”

I nod. Bablu continues:

“But Hira will not tell. That is Birjinder’s strategy. He increases an individual worker’s wage, but extracts a promise that the worker will not discuss this with the others.”