instalments

Post 71, Abdullahpur Basti, Ludhiana

7:00 p.m.: Rachit stands at the entrance of the mill, engrossed in his mobile. I ask him what he is up to? He shows me the models of the inverter he has been exploring on the Amazon website. The one he likes, a Luminous model with a battery strength of 15 Ah, costs INR 11,500. But he doesn’t know of any retailer in Sargana’s vicinity who would sell it on the payment of instalments. As he found out a few days ago,  although sellers in Ludhiana would allow him to pay for the device in instalments, he anticipates it would be simply too heavy for him to carry it on the train back.

7:30 p.m.: Rachit and I continue to talk. I ask him about Suraj’s job in Sasaram. Rachit purses his lips before telling me that it was all a scam. Suraj had been promised a job as a security guard. But on reaching Sasaram, he and his father were told the job entailed recruiting members to a marketing network and sell soaps and other washing items. Suraj refused to become involved. Rachit turns back to his phone, now searching for parcel delivery options.

8:00 p.m.: As he mulls over possible solutions, Rachit suddenly realises its times for his favourite teleserial Kalash. The serial has taken an exciting turn, according to him: the female protagonist drowned in a river as a result of foul play a few episodes ago but has now returned in a different body to take revenge against her tormentors.

Post 58, DMC Hospital, Ludhiana

3 p.m.: Rachit calls me from DMC hospital, where he is attending to Birjinder’s aunt. He is getting bored and wants me to come over and keep him company.

3:45 p.m.: Rachit and I meet at the parking lot of the hospital. He is wearing a black jacket and a pair of jeans. He is leaving for Birjinder’s home in Abdullahpur Basti and asks me to come with him. I sit behind him on his scooter, and we drive away. On the way, he informs me that his brother Suraj is contemplating return to their home in Bihar.

“He earns INR 7000, but spends nearly INR 5500 per month. So what is the point of his continuing to work in Delhi if he can only save INR 1500 per month?” Rachit asks me and continues: “In the last four months, he has sent a mere total of INR 6000.

“Somebody we know in the village has offered to recommend him for the job of a guard in Patna, so let’s see what comes of it,” he adds.

Rachit plans to purchase an inverter, a device that backs up electric supply in the event of a power failure. He has identified a shop in Ludhiana that allows customers to buy on payment of instalments, but he is worried about carrying such a heavy load on the train. He asks me to enquire if I know of any establishment in Patna that might sell inverters and allow customers to pay in instalments.

4:15 p.m.: Birjinder’s wife calls Rachit and asks him to hurry home. Rachit assures her he is on the way and mutters: “The slightest delay annoys them,” before speeding up.