Post 55, Sargana

10:15 a.m.: Gyanesh Mandal sits at the counter of his father’s shop. Two of his friends hang out with him. One of them hands him a bottle of honey, which Gyanesh opens and shares with the others. They dip their index fingers into the bottle and help themselves to their heart’s content.

After a few minutes, they excuse themselves, telling Gyanesh they have to study for the upcoming exams.

Gyanesh asks me how I have been. He wants to know about the book for which I am collecting data, and enquires about the remuneration I receive.

He proceeds to tell me how much he longs to go away: “I am fed up of constant quarrels at home. Indeed, I never wanted to stay home. Kabhi mann nahin lagta tha,” Gyanesh says, suggesting that he did not like staying at home.

My father did not want me to go. He tried his best to stop me. But my brother-in-law was going, and I was determined to go with him. I missed my friends here, those two you just saw. They did not want to come- they wanted to continue their studies. But I had had enough.

Obviously, I made friends while in Kerala. There was this one person from Gopalgunj. Another was from Sasaram. We hung out often, used to go out, have fun. [I enquired if they watched any Malayalam films. He shook his head] No, there was this amazing place near the factory- I don’t remember what it was called- where we used to go to watch the sun set every evening. It was nothing if not breath-taking. I will cherish those memories of the setting sun forever.