Ali gestured for me to sit on the floor and in rapid Bengali told Meem to give me work. I watched her and I watched Ali and began to understand how the factory worked.
Like most people, I had never thought of it before.He is a small, wiry man who, I later discovered, cooks and sleeps at the factory. Now big factories have security and careful screening.Outsiders, especially non-Bengali speakers, are looked at with deep suspicion.She cleared one collar after another of threads until the big pile, which had been bigger than her, was no more. At most street corners, there were shoe-shine men, tiny places that served tea and Bengali sweets.It took her all morning and she didn’t look up much, did not join any conversation. Later, she said, it had been a good day: the electricity didn’t play hooky (which meant the three ceiling fans worked all day) and so it wasn’t oppressively hot, she had fish curry for lunch, and the floor manager didn’t yell at her for humming too loudly. Morningtime was almost always more chaotic as schoolchildren in uniforms scrambled to get to class and grown-ups hurried to work.