rent

Post 68, Abdullahpur Basti, Ludhiana

5:45 p.m.: Kamal Flour Mill is abuzz with activity. Birjinder sits at the counter to the entrance, dealing with his clients’ demands. Vishnu is operating the grinding machine, while Bablu Yadav and Hiralal Paswan prepare sacks of flour for deliveries. Kalki Prasad Yadav lines up the sealed sacks to one side of the mill for Vishnu and Rachit to deliver to clients as appropriate.

Rachit is away at the DMC Hospital, as he has every single day over the last week. Bablu discusses his plans to share his new room with a neighbour from his village in Gaya who has come to Ludhiana in search of work. He tells me Kalki Prasad has asked him about sharing the room and splitting the cost, but he has refused.

“Why?” I ask perplexed.

“Have you seen the state of the room in which the man lives? He’s very untidy. I want someone neat and tidy to share my room,” he replies as he holds the mouth of the sack open through which Hiralal pours the flour.

Post 62, Abdullapur, Ludhiana

7:00 p.m.: Rachit comes into the mill for a fleeting moment. He informs me that his temperature is slightly higher than normal and goes back inside the house to continue his household chores.

Vishnu complains about his new accommodation, where the landlord prohibits tenants from cooking fish and meat. But he has few options since this is the only place which is affordable: the rent is INR 1200 for four persons. The landlord at the tenement in which Vishnu lived earlier was more lax about tenants’ dietary habits. But he has refurbished that accommodation and now charges INR 1500 for accommodating two people.