The clouds seemed to be in a hurry, blowing towards the mountains hastily, leaving the plains bereft of the protective cover and allowing the sun to let its fury on the hapless humans struggling to even begin their day in the scorching humid weather.
‘The work needs to be completed before the monsoon sets in,’ shouted the contractor as the crowd of emaciated labourers started running around, picking up bags of cement, iron, and sand to carry out the construction.
‘Quick, quick,’ he continued, creating a hyper sense of urgency and hoping to complete what would take months in only a few weeks.
The sweaty bodies trembled as they carried heavy bags of cement, to mix it with sand and water; quickly realizing what they should do, though allowed them to seamlessly divide themselves into smaller cliques as each one of them slipped into their respective roles effortlessly as if they knew the drill from an earlier experience.
‘Move fast, it could rain anytime, the clouds are gone, but they can return anytime,’ the loud voice shouted, his small frame standing against the tall, slender, labourer who was moving a little slower than others.
‘Where are you from?’ the contractor asked, the big man though continued walking as if he didn’t notice; the scrawny body stooped under the weight of the huge load while his mouth gasped for air, but he continued to move slowly.
‘Hey, hey, I am asking you,’ the shrill voice turned louder.
Unable to turn his head, he halted, turned right, and faced the man, who was now walking alongside him.
‘Bana…..’, the choked throat and sweat-soaked body probably didn’t have the energy to even speak properly as he struggled to complete the word.
‘Banaras,’ the contractor completed his part spoken word while nodding his head and examining him with his doubtful eyes hidden behind thick glasses.
The tall man also nodded his head before turning around to begin his walk towards the machine, the place where everyone was emptying the cement bags.
The steps, however, soon turned wobblier as he struggled to reach the large container, the legs shook like a swift pendulum and before he could even realize it, a loud thud forced everyone to stare at him.
The cement bag also lay there torn apart, as it hit the ground, covering the man’s face and limbs with black soot, while he lay perfectly still on wet ground.
Two-three people ran towards him; the rest just stared in that direction for a moment wondering what the whole commotion was about.
‘Get some water,’ a man shouted, sweat running across his arms and head, as he squatted beside him; his mind, though, still vacillated on if he should touch the man and dirty his hand.
The indecisiveness continued till someone else ran towards the body lying on the ground; he was also shouting and immediately put the unresponsive head on his lap.
‘Get some water please,’ he requested the 6-7 people now standing around him, staring at the contractor from the corner of his eyes, who was still trying to figure out if the man lying on the ground was alive.
‘Can you feel his breath?’ he whispered to another skinny, albeit slightly shorter labourer sitting beside the fallen man, gasping for breath but still requesting help.
He ignored the question; probably didn’t even hear it, as his eyes scampered on each of the onlooker’s faces, hoping to get some water quickly.
Two-three men ran towards the exit, trying to locate the municipality tap they used to drink from during their lunch break.
The loud shrill voice now pleaded, as the man on the ground sighed heavily, arching his body before turning still, the eyes now staring at the sky.
‘Get them off here quickly,’ the contractor instructed one of the guards as the two men quickly ran towards them, one picking the labourer on the ground while the other, pushing the one who came to help; he fell, but continued crawling towards them as they dragged off the lifeless body out of everyone’s view.
‘You know what to do, huh?’ the soft murmur wasn’t heard by anyone, but the movement of his lips conveyed what he meant as the other workers stared at the stout man, claiming to be managing this site.
‘Get back to work, it could rain anytime,’ he shouted out loud, suppressing the cold loud shrieks of the only person who was affected by what had just occurred there.
‘We need to finish before the rain sets in,’ the brash order immediately forced everyone back to work.
‘Carry it cautiously,’ the contractor implored another trembling man, as he dumped another sack of cement into the huge machine.
The whirring and buzzing sound of the enormous machine immediately subdued the voice and emotions of everyone as they now looked forward to finishing their work quickly.
‘This would be the tallest tower of this city,’ a man announced to another one, who just left the comfort of his shining new imported car to inspect the place; his eyes alternating between the incomplete structure in front of him and what he was seeing in the papers which the other man was holding out in front.
‘Soon, this would be the most expensive address of not only this city but the whole of India,’ he declared proudly as they now walked back towards their cars, the dust and the heat were too much to bear.
The driver knew where to take them as he began driving towards the most expensive hotel in the city to complete the deal.
‘An unidentified body was discovered in the city’s drains yesterday; police are still verifying the details’; a minor news item appeared somewhere in the middle pages of some newspapers, the news probably overlooked even by his own family and everyone else.