GENRE: Adult Literary Fiction
A low hum and occasional footsteps echoed through Building 6 of Drake Chemical India. Hari Walangkar, the last remaining nighttime sweeper, pushed his broom down the concrete corridor, adding a swishing sound to the uncomfortable quiet. He missed the hustle-bustle of six months ago, when 500 men rushed about during the night, operating the machines, watching the dials, and climbing ladders to adjust the knobs or polish them. Now he guessed he was one man out of 100, and attributed his good fortune to Ganesh, Hindu lord of success and remover of obstacles.
Hari backtracked to retrieve his three-wheeled supply cart and dragged it deeper into the building that housed the giant tanks. He looked up into the tangle of steel pipes, extended the pole of his duster as far as it would go, and gently brushed a thin layer of dirt down onto the floor. Two peacock feathers escaped from the stick and fluttered toward his feet, a clear sign that these treasures were his for the taking. Smiling, he placed them in the cloth sack slung across his chest, happy to have come upon them honestly. Tomorrow morning he would give the feathers to his young sons who were accomplished tradesmen in the warrens of Chola Colony.
Suddenly a loud bang shook the building. Hari grabbed his cart, chained it to a nearby pillar, and rushed down the passageway looking for trouble. A worker wearing a full-face mask darted along the wall while a couple Muslims hurried toward their prayer room.