GENRE: Adult Commercial Historical Fiction
Hari, a sweeper at a pesticide factory in India, spots an unusual leak in the giant tank room. Worried, he looks for a supervisor, finally finding one on tea break in a nearby building. The supervisor dismisses Hari’ s complaint as trivial, and Hari returns to the factory floor, taking his fears to his favorite god.
Hari pulled a garland of marigolds from his sack, placing it on the altar alongside other workers' offerings to Ganesh: a package of biscuits, a box of Indian sweets, three oranges, and a rubber condom in its familiar Drake Chemical plastic wrapper.
"You think flowers will help?" a man said in Urdu-accented Hindi, his voice as cutting as an industrial knife. "Because you give a gift, you think this god of yours will keep you from getting fired?"
Hari jumped up and looked at the man. He wore white coveralls, company-issued work boots, and an embroidered skullcap. Nobody wore helmets any longer. First the Sikhs with their large orange turbans were granted relief, now all workers could do as they pleased. When the American bosses left the factory six months ago, the rules went with them. Even Hari had grown lax; not only had he given up his helmet, but he wore sandals on this feet.
"This place has gone to shit," the Muslim said as he lit his bidi and flicked the match on the floor. Without giving Hari a chance to respond, the man stomped away, the sound of his heavy boots disrupting the quiet that had returned after the boom ten minutes ago. The man was right; everything had changed since the factory stopped manufacturing the white powder. Medicine for plants; medicine that did nothing if the rain refused to fall.