India is experiencing an unprecedented heat wave. Dhruv Khullar describes what living and working in the extreme heat feels like, especially for the country’s poorest residents in and around Delhi.

The women described headaches, exhaustion, dizziness, rashes, fever. The stench of the landfill—an acrid mixture of excrement and rotting trash—was sickening, they said, but the heat made it hard to tolerate masks. Outside the hut, children kicked a ragged soccer ball. A scrawny dog panted on a mound of refuse. Flies swarmed a heap of dung.

“We are living,” Saira said. “But we are also dying.”

Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.