mobile phone

Post 73, DMC Hospital, Ludhiana

5:00 p.m.: Birjinder’s aunt has now been shifted into the General Ward. A marked improvement in her health is discernible. Rachit sits by her bedside and brews a glass of lemon juice for her.

5:45 p.m.: Rachit receives a call on his mobile. Birjinder’s aunt is asleep so he speaks in hushed tones. The call is from his friend Saroj who plies an autorickshaw back in Sargana. He talks alternatively to Saroj and with Saroj’s fiancée, whom he calls “rickshaw-vali” in a reference to her husband’s occupation. After a while, he looks away and speaks in even more hushed tones. The call lasts nearly an hour.

6:45 p.m.: Rachit hangs up and turns around. Birjinder’s aunt is still asleep. Rachit informs me that he was also chatting with Saroj’s sister-in-law. I am slightly perplexed.

“Didn’t you say you didn’t talk to her any more?” I enquire.

Rachit smiles and appears to blush but does not say anything.

Post 38, Ludhiana

5:45 p.m.: I am at the mill, chatting with Dasharath, who weighs the flour before it is packed into sacks. Vishnu spreads out a mat on sealed sacks of bran for me to sit. Dasharath plans to purchase a Jio simcard for his mobile phone since it will allow him a number of free calls. He has so far been using Vishnu’s mobile to make calls, but Vishnu needs the phone far more than he does: after all, Vishnu has to speak to his fiancée the entire day, Dasharath chuckles. He will buy a mobile for himself in about two months.

Dasharath tells me I resemble his cousin brother who lives in Assam, before turning to the next sack of flour.

Vishnu wants to know the price of gold. He asks me to look up the price of gold online: he wants to purchase one tola of gold for his fiancée. A google search indicates that 22 carats of gold cost INR 2700. One tola is almost 11 grams, so a tola would cost nearly INR 30,000, I inform him. Vishnu’s face falls. Muttering that he had hoped prices would have reduced, he goes back to sealing the delivery sacks.

6:15 p.m.: Rachit meets me in the mill. His brother tells him that he has managed to exchange the old 1000 rupee-note which were rendered illegal following the announcement about demonetisation. However, Rachit is not convinced: he will call his uncle later today to confirm.

7:30 p.m.: Bhullan arrives in front of the mill with his vegetable cart. I ask about his well-being. He complains about the losses caused by demonetisation. “Modi has finished my business,” he rues.