Life After Debt


Life After Debt

Illustration: Namaah / Arré


n a door in a nondescript building in Mumbai’s Wadala east, the number 102 stands out in crimson. There’s little indication that a couple of lakhs of hard cash, jewellery, and valuables are stored on the other side of this door. There are no images of gods plastered on it, no swastikas, or Oms in red paint guarding it. The money needs no protection. The people from whom it is taken just might.

In the confines of this 600-square-foot room, Nadeem bhai runs a collection agency. He makes a living from the debt dodgers of a greedy city. I knock on the door and a few seconds later, a dark, puny man opens it and asks, “Kya kaam hai?” His breath is reeking of paan. The sour smell hits me even though I’m a good two feet away and about a foot taller. I tell him I’m here to see Nadeem; he nods and beckons me.