security guard

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 72, Sasaram

Zaheeb Ajmal reports from Sargana, brief dated March 5, 2017.

11 a.m.: Mahadev Yadav has just finished sweeping his courtyard. He welcomes me warmly and asks me to sit. I have been enquiring about his and his son’s trip to Sasaram, where Suraj had been promised a job by an acquaintance. Mahadev asked me to come home today. We both sit on the machan in his courtyard and he narrates details of his trip to Sasaram.

We came to know about this job through a distant relative, a brother-in-law of my brother-in law (saala ka saala). He told us about an opening for a security guard with a construction company in Sasaram. We went over to meet his contact on the 15th of last month. This man told us the company’s name was Gladeur and claimed that he was the Manager. He told us there would be an interview the following day, but he did not know yet the time or the venue. I found this rather strange.

The next morning, the man called us and told us the interviews would be in two hours at a location that was very close to where we were staying. Suraj and I went to the address the man gave us. We found it to be a decrepit two-storeyed building but went in nevertheless. Inside, in one room, there were about fifty young men and the person who called himself a manager making a presentation. He was showing his audience a film about selling soaps, detergents and other cleaning materials. There was no interview! Suraj and I waited for a few minutes. The man had finished his presentation and others were talking. We began to walk away.

That was when things took a strange turn. The man came running after us and asked us why we were leaving. We told him that Suraj had come to interview for the position of a security guard, not to sell soaps and detergents. I would not mind if he was willing to hire me, but Suraj flatly refused to get involved as a salesman. The man told me he I could have the job if I wanted. I stood there perplexed. But it was what he said next that allowed me to understand what was going on.

The man said I would have to pay him INR 16,000 if I wanted the job. He said it was a security deposit for all the items that they would entrust me to sell. That was when I realised this was a huge scam. I told him I didn’t have the money. He had a solution for that too: he asked me to leave Suraj with him, return home and pay him the money through a bank transaction.

Did he think we were fools? Suraj and I walked right away.  

I know how these things work. I’ve been scammed once before [proceeds to talk about his experience with a Kolkata-based chit fund company] so I’m not stupid. I am just very angry with everyone. Most of all, my own relative. How could he have done this to us?

Our own have betrayed us.

Post 70, Abdullahpur Basti, Ludhiana

6:15 p.m.: Birjinder stands inside Kamal Flour Mill, his hands folded and watching his employees at work. Bablu and Kalki Prasad pack the flour into delivery sacks, while Ambika Prasad operates the grinding machine. After some time, he returns to sit at the counter.

6:30 p.m.: Rachit walks into the mill and announces to no one in particular that he has to buy things from the Camp area. I offer to accompany him. He has been asked by Birjinder’s wife to purchase some bhajiyas (fritters) for their evening snack. We reach the shop in ten minutes and make our purchases. Rachit offers me some bhajiyas from the packet to taste.

On our way back, Rachit tells me that his brother Suraj left their home to travel to Forbesgunj earlier today. He will leave for Patna tomorrow, from where he will travel to Sasaram, where he has been offered a job as a security guard.

As we reach the mill, Rachit remembers that it is Valentine’s Day today and asks me why I am not with my girlfriend. I tell him I am single and ask him about his romantic interests. I pointedly inquire about the sister of his friend’s fiancé, with whom he talks often. He informs me matter-of-factly that although they used to chat earlier, now they do not.

Changing the conversation, Rachit asks me if I wanted to join him and Bablu this evening for dinner: “Bablu is cooking chicken curry,” he winked. I agreed, reminding myself to note Rachit’s obvious disregard for some Hindus’ concern that no meat ought to be consumed on a Tuesday.

8:00 p.m.: Bablu and I are walking back from the market to his room, having purchased half-a kilo of chicken. Bablu informs me that he will leave the mill on the 17th.

“Why?”, I ask bewildered.

“Birjinder asked me to leave,” Bablu replies glumly. “I mentioned to Mevalal that I would take leave for a few days from the 17th of next month. He must have ratted on me with Birjinder. Anyway, Birjinder called me and told me I need not bother to wait till then. He asked me to clear my accounts by the 17th of this month.”

“But are you not going to complain?,” I persist.

“Whats the point. Employers never listen to labourers, only to sycophants,” comes the reply.

Dinner is ready, and I call Rachit to tell him he can come.

Post 69, Arati Chowk, Ludhiana

3:00 p.m.: Rachit stops by at my room on his way back from the hospital to his employer’s home in Abdullahpur Basti. As I finish up my notes, he shuffles through his whatsapp messages and listens a few times to the election jingle of the Samajwadi Party which someone has forwarded. His friends from his village in Sargana are circulating this jingle in their network.

3:30 p.m.: Rachit asks me to search for High Tech Construction Company on google. An acquaintance has offered to broker a job as a security guard for his brother Suraj at this company, but is demanding INR 16,000 as a fee for his services.

“We don’t have so much money to give away. My father is constructing a house, and we need to save for that,” Rachit frowns. “But if it is a decent job, then obviously it will help all of us,” he continues, the creases on his forehead becoming more prominent.