Post 44, Abdullahpur Basti, Ludhiana

8:00 p.m.: Dasharath and I are back in the mill. Rachit joins us. He asks Dasharath and me to join him since has to collect some cash from one of Birjinder’s clients. The three of us drive over to a grocery store shop in the neighbourhood. Rachit begins to chat with the store owner, a 50-something acquaintance of his as well as a client of Birjinder’s. It is then that I reaslise that he is here to talk about employment prospects for Dasharath.

“Does the boy know Punjabi?” the grocery owner asks, nodding towards Dasharath.

“Not yet, but he’ll learn,” Rachit answers.

Turning to Dasharath, the store-owner asks, “How much have you studied?”

Dasharath replies, “Class Ten.”

Rachit adds: “Do you know the kiosk where they sell dosa- further down the road? The man who prepares the dosa is from the same village as Dasharath.”

Continuing to address Dasharath, the store owner asks, “Will you not want to work with him soon?

Pat comes Dasharath’s reply: “No sir.”

“Okay,” the store owner says. “These are my terms. I will pay you INR 4000 per month in addition to providing you with lodging and boarding. You will work daily for 12 hours, from 8 am to 8 pm. The work is simple- receiving deliveries from suppliers, organising the items in the store and delivering goods to clients’ homes.”

“Dasharath considers the offer for a moment before responding: “But if I earn only INR 4000, how will I be able to save any money?”

“Well, you aren’t spending any money are you? Your boarding and lodging are taken care of, so I don’t understand what the problem is.”

Dasharath remains unconvinced. Oblivious, the store owner says: “You can start work from tomorrow morning, but you might not be able to move into the quarters for another three-to-four days while the existing worker plans his departure.

We exit the store. Dasharath complains to Rachit that the store-owner’s offer is too little. Rachit advises Dasharath to take the job and gradually negotiate for a raise. We return to the mill in no time. Dasharath takes his complaint to Vishnu, asking for his advice. Vishnu echoes Rachit. Dasharath requests Vishnu to accompany him the next day to meet the store owner.