Final script/premise

Script

Energy Wallah

The year 2060

The slums of Landhi

Population ~ 1.5 million

The invention of the portable, rechargeable graphene battery and developments in electric microgeneration change the face of energy consumption and production in the slums of South Asia. Suddenly, cheap, ubiquitous energy becomes possible – where the urban environment was dependent on state infrastructure to provide energy, now ways by which individual people can produce electricity enough to power their own devices and even homes revolutionizes the dynamics of energy consumption in the slum. Many of the traditional roles that people in the slum economies play are subtly altered, and some new roles have emerged around new industries.

One of these key roles to emerge from the economy of energy production is the powerful figure of the energy wallah, a role roughly analogous to that of the moneylender in south Asian society today. The energy wallah controls the flow of energy production, stockage and consumption in the slum: he stores energy in his large capacitors, supplies energy to the neighborhood, and loans energy to slum dwellers who need it, acting as the late 21st century equivalent of a traditional moneylender – he also buys energy from the poor in return for cash. Some energy wallahs, in order to meet the energy demands of their customers employ more insidious means to employ the many desperate souls persisting in the heart of the slums.

And ancient professions like those of the many mobile service providers known as cycle wallahs now take advantage of new and cheap ways of producing energy through their daily labor to hoard energy as a means to both power their own products and homes, and hoard it as a form of wealth to be bartered for real cash if needed. In this way, energy comes to acquire a value for the poor much as gold or more material forms of wealth did for the rich, albeit one that is prone to more flow because of its utility.

The Energy Wallah

Two cycle wallah’s are sitting at a local dhabba sipping tea and discussing the day’s events. One cycle wallah talks about his worries about his daughter’s upcoming wedding and how he is hoarding energy in the cube he bought to barter for credits from the energy wallah to pay the dowry by cycling all day for the money lender to make enough energy to pay back his loans. The other cycle wallah is talking about appealing to the energy wallah’s hafta collectors to let his energy deficit go for another few weeks. The two complain about the cost of living as being so thoroughly dependent on energy rather than material goods now and leave.

Sharick: Aaye haye. Aur batao Saqib, aur kya chal raha hai aaj kal?

(*Sigh*. So, tell me what else is new Saqib?)

Saqib: Kya bataein bhay.

(What is there to tell brother?)

Saqib: Kahe ko tension lete ho mere bhai? Tumhare paas to phir bhi bharose ki naukri hai factory mein, har maheene tankhwa tho le kar aathe ho. Mujhe dekho, roz apni cycle par basti kei eik kone se dusre kone cycle kartha hoon, logon ka saaman charge kartha hua aur auzar tez kartha hua. Jo thori bohath bijli aur graphene bachthi hai har din who ja kar bijli walleh ko aune paune bech detha hoon.

(Why be tense brother, atleast you have a stable job working in a sweatshop – you get a fixed salary every month. Look at me, cycling from one end of the slum to the other every day charging peoples appliances and sharpening their power tools. Whatever electricity I save and graphene I produce I sell to the energy wallah for nickels and dimes.)

Sharick: Are kaun si naukri. Jitna mahine mein kamata hoo sara tho hafta wasooli aur ghar ke kharchon par chala jata hai.Bete ko Jatoi ke hawale karwa kar us ko bhi bhaare mein kaam par laga diya hai tho us ke paise bharne par rahe hai. Uper se koi time nahi milta doosri naukri karne ke liye. Ghar ja kar roz ghanta lagana parhtha hai bijli banate hue thake chula jal sake….aur ab Beti ke shaadi teh hui mistri ke larke se. rishta acha hai, bas dahej ke paise aur shaadi ke kharche ke maare aaj kal subha shaam mara mari kar raha hoon.

(Some job. All the salary I make goes to the rent collectors for that shack my family lives in, not to mention that I have to pay Jatoi a weekly sum to train my son to work in his machine shop. And I can’t work double time because I have to come back home and pedal for an hour to create enough energy to run the old stove…and now my daughter is set to be married to the local machinist’s daughter…it is a good match. I’m just wearing myself out day and night trying to gather money for her dowry.)

Saqib: Aye hae. Haan, shaadi karwana koi asaan kaam nahi, who bhi ek lauthi beti ki.

(I can sympathize. It isn’t easy marrying off your only daughter.)

Sharick: Haan. Sochtha hoon ke bijli walleh se jaa kar udhaar le loon. Shaadi ke kharche aur dahej mein eik saal ki bijli ka kharcha aur kaise uthaoon ga –

(Yes. I’m thinking of scraping before the energy wallah for a loan. How else would I be able to bear the costs of a wedding and the year’s supply of energy I promised for a dowry to the in-laws -)

Saqib: Are nahi mere bhai, aesa na kar. Tumhe pata hai ke Osama kitna harami aadmi hai. Daam tho aise detha hai bijli ke jaise ke bijli khareed kar ehsan kar raha hai. Uper se tumhe pata hai ke who udhaar ke maamle mein kiya kuch kar sakta hai. Sunna nahi hai ke agar paise wapas nahi kar sako tho who kis tarha karza chukka tha hai?

(Oh, no, anything but that! Don’t you know what a ruthless man Osama is? For one thing, the pittances he pays for energy, as if he’s doing a favor on you. And then, if you can’t pay off his debt, you do realize what he will demand as payment, right?)

Saqib: Are nahi mere bhai, aesa na kar. Tumhe pata hai ke Osama kitna harami aadmi hai. Daam tho aise detha hai bijli ke jaise ke bijli khareed kar ehsan kar raha hai. Uper se tumhe pata hai ke who udhaar ke maamle mein kiya kuch kar sakta hai. Sunna nahi hai ke agar paise wapas nahi kar sako tho who kis tarha karza chukka tha hai?

(Oh, no, anything but that! Don’t you know what a ruthless man Osama is? For one thing, the pittances he pays for energy, as if he’s doing a favor on you. And then, if you can’t pay off his debt, you do realize what he will demand as payment, right?)

Sharick: Suna hai…

(I’ve heard…)

Saqib: Sohail Pheku ne bhi udhaar liya tha ek saal pehle, ama ki goliyon ke liye. Udhaar charhathe charhathe bemari ke peeche bilkul diwala out ho gaya. Ab paise tho wapas karne the kisi tarha…kya kartha? Osama ne use laga diya apne bijli khane main. Dekhi hai us ki haalat? Poore din us harami ke liye cycle chala chala kar kamar tooth gayi hai. Is liy meri baat suno – bijli wale se door raho. Poore din jaan marne se behtar hai ke karkhane mein beth kar graphene chanto.

(Saqib Phekoo had also taken out a loan for his ailing mother’s medicines. Suffice it to say that the loans kept piling up as the illness progressed, to the point where Saqib went bankrupt. Then Osama put him to work in his energy shop. Have you seen him recently? Cycling like a mad man day in and out, his back has completely caved in – the poor bastard can hardly stand straight now. Listen to me: whatever you do, do not take a loan from the energy wallah. It’s better to work sitting in the sweatshop scraping old solar cells for their graphene than to sweat it out in an energy factory.)

Sharick: Haan, sahi keh rahe ho. Agar aise nahi to shayad bête ko aik mahine jaldi karkhane se bula kar bijli banwaoon, aur naukri par double shiftein laga loon. Haye haye. Kya zamana aa gaya hai. Bachpan mein yaad hai, kachhi abaadiyan theen aise ke bijli ka koi naam-o-nishaan nahi tha. Ab dekho – aise basti mein bhi ab har ghar mein chula aur funmashin hai…har ghar mein bijli…magar in sab cheezon ke liye ab aur jaan maari karni parhthi hai. Mein tumhe bata raha hoon, zindagi ke sare masle sab iski wajah se hain.

(Yes, you are right. Maybe I can get my son to come home early every day for the next month and do double shifts at work instead. *Sigh*. What times we live in. I remember when I was a kid, nobody in this slum had electricity – the bare necessities of life were so expensive. Now look at it…every house has an electric stove and an entertainment unit…every house has energy…and yet look at how we slave everyday to sustain these things. I tell you, all of this slavery, this misery, boils down to this // cut to graphene cube)

Saqib: Are choro Sharick. Kya tum wapas ussi tarha bhikari ki tarha rehna chaho ge. Roz raat ko kam az kam mujhe kuch aram tho milta hai apne garam bistar mein. Khair, har zamane ke apne masle hote hai. Mein tho chala aik aur round par. Chalo ji.

(Oh, come come. Would you like to go back to living without a pauper? Atleast I get to sleep in a heated bed now instead of the open cold every night. Anyway, every age has its own problems. I’m off on another round. See ya.)

 

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