After four hours since they had encountered Mangal, the children still very conciously avoided him as much as they could & worked in silence. Tiblu feared he might refuse them the day's pay. If that happened, then he was sure of getting whacked by his father back home. Chandu wasn't too worried as he'd always earned for himself & had nobody to feed at home except his drunk brother who was currently living with a cousin. Moreover, sleeping on an empty stomach wasn't uncommon for him.
"Hey, what's the matter with you?", asked Tara, a fellow child labourer. "Problems with that Mangal again?", she asked. "Yes", replied Chandu. "He feels he might not get today's wages", he said, pointing towards Tiblu. "You two will never..." started Tara when Chandu interrupted her. "Hey look!" he yelled.
Two big, black SUV's had just rolled into the premises. Every worker stopped and stared, but they all were quickly signalled by Mangal to carry on as he jogged down to the cars.
The builder, Jalaj Shah, a tall man in his forties with a clean shaven face & with designer black shades over his eyes, stepped out of one of the SUVs. He was dressed in a white short shirt, dark blue trousers & black leather shoes. His secretary, subordinates & security staff stood around him as he nodded to Mangal's greetings. He was a shrewd & powerful man with ample friends in important government positions. To further boost his influence he was planning to stand in the upcoming state elections for a MLA seat.
"How's it going on, Mangal?",he asked. "First class sirji" replied Mangal, grinning. "I hope you don't have any pay problems with these morons anymore", Shah said, referring to the labourers and walking on towards the structures under construction, without looking at Mangal. "No sirji, I've fixed that. There won't be any more problems of any sort. It's Mangal's guarantee" he said with a hand on his heart. Shah looked at him. Mangal's grin had faded and was now replaced by a proud look on his face. Jalaj Shah knew such people perfectly well. They were always keen to impress the rich and affluent. But it was very eesential to keep them on a tight laesh as men like Mangal were seldom loyal. At the same time it was nececssary to reward them adequately for their services.
Shah broke into a smile."Good. You know what? You're a very useful chap" he said & patted Mangal on his back.
Jalaj Shah's team followed the duo. However, there was a man amongst them, a bodyguard of Shah, named Mohan, who strolled a few paces behind the rest, and very expertly, without anybody else's knowledge took pictuers with his cellphone camera.
Shah and his men patrolled the site and took stock of the work going on. While they were busy, Mohan came around to meet the child labourers. "Hi there" he called ou to Chandu, Tiblu & Tara. "Want to get clicked?" he asked with a smile. "Here, I've got something for you." he said and took out some toffees from his pocket. The children's eyes lit up as they saw the sweets & as they ate them, Mohan clicked two photos. Then he asked them about their work and the number of kids working at the site. The trio told them all that they knew. Mohan stealthily took more snaps of other children working & made some notes in a small pad. Before he left, he offered them some more toffees which they gleefully accepted.
"Where were you off to?" asked Hasan, another member of Shah's security team. "Oh, I just went to pee" replied Mohan. He realised that Hasan wasn't too convinced by his answer but he didn't give a damn. After all, his financial crunch was to end that night for ever, following which he would quit Shah's job & return to his hometown.