Post 29, Abdullahpur Basti

7 p.m.: Kamal flour mill is busier than usual. Both the grinding machines are operational, perhaps due to an increased demand for cereals during the forthcoming Gur Purnima festival. Rachit is away with Birjinder and his wife who have gone shopping. Birjinder’s younger brother is at the counter. Ambika pours the wheat into the grinding machine, while Mevalal weighs the processed flour and packs them into delivery sacks for different customers. Bablu gets up to leave, but is asked by Birjinder’s younger brother to continue working for a little while longer. Bablu refuses and packs up. Ambika and Mevalal continue their work.

7:15 p.m.: Bablu and I walk towards his room. “I begin work at 7 a.m. and stop at 7 p.m.,” he complains bitterly. “How can the malik (employer) expect me to work longer hours?”

He goes on: “That Mevalal works up till 10:00. But he comes in to work at 9:30 a.m. Birjinder pays him an extra of INR 50-100 for the additional half an hour. But he never pays me if I stay on for a little while longer. A malik should treat all his employees as equals.”

Credit: Atul Anand

Credit: Atul Anand