When the whir of engines and the clang of metal against obstinate metal die down, when the neon lights go down in hundreds of sooty factory buildings in Haiderpur, Ashish Kumar opens his notebook. A lanky, dark-skinned, 16-year-old factory worker, Ashish sits down to write at night, “mood banake, aaste aaste”.
In the cramped tenements housing thousands of workers in northwest Delhi’s factories, there is little time or energy or the “heart” to think about life beyond.
But Ashish, who lives in one such tenement cluster in the urban village of Haiderpur with his parents, has not reconciled himself to the mind-numbing tedium of work on the assembly line. He pursues his education through a distance-learning programme offered by the CBSE for students of Class IX and X, plays cricket for a team in the HPL (Haiderpur Premier League), a hyper-local version of 20-20 cricket, and writes at night.