9:45 a.m.: Shyamdev Mandal sits with two of his friends at the machaan (raised bamboo platform) in front of his house, getting ready for their morning smoke. As they pass the chillum from one to another, Shyamdev talks to us about his application again. He has applied for a loan of INR 25000 and is confident of securing it. He badly needs the loan because he dipped into his savings during the legal battle to secure the release of his friend Vinay Mandal. But he also remarks on the possibility of his application being rejected.
“If that happens,” he says, looking into the distance, “I will go back outside the village to work”,
“What work will you do?”, I ask.
“The same that I’ve always done,” he says, “Lifting bricks. Laying them on the cement. I am allergic to cement, but if I have no other work to do, this is better than nothing.”
Shyamdev’s friends leave, and stretches out on the machaan for a bit since his back aches.