Away and Today

It wasn’t yet dinnertime. They usually had dinner at around 9PM, late by her standards, early by his. Today, the noise from the construction work outside was reverberating in her mind. Itt was 6PM and weren’t those workers supposed to go home? She stepped out, mug of hot Rooiboos tea in her hand. The lake glimmered to her left, a mirage when it was just a filth of sewage from all of Bangalore’s drains. She wasn’t sure what she would say.

Already, what was just an empty plot of garbage was now pitted with deep holes of mud and earth. They had dug for a borewell a few days ago. She wasn’t sure if they had found any water. They would first see if they got water in this place before building houses. The women in front appeared to be singing as they passed a pan of cement around. Or at least that’s what it looked like they were doing. Towels wrapped as turbans around their heads. Sweat glistening off arms tawny and tight. The men stripped down to their banians – and even they seemed to have abs that pressed against their sinewy frame.The tea is almost tepid now. They glance up at her, standing there, wind rustling against unkempt hair, thin arms and thin legs and a racking cough.

Suddenly, the noise ceases. They throw their work weapons aside. She couldn’t understand how they knew it was time. No bell had sounded. The women bend down and pick up Mirinda or Pepsi bottles that hold water. In less than 5 minutes, they are gone in the truck that comes to pick them up. She sees them go. Huddled inside the truck, the men standing straight, facing the road. Silence again. Yet how uncalm it is.

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