Post 34, Sargana

10 a.m.: Shyamdev Mandal has just come out of the bath. He asks me to sit by the counter at his shop where Jitendra, his younger son is listening to Bhojpuri music on the phone (He has earphones plugged in, but one could hear what he was listening to, nevertheless). A veiled Savitri, Shyamdev’s wife, informs me that Ganesh has been afflicted with pock marks, and proceeds to explain that Mata (Mother) has inflicted his body: Mata aa gayi hai (The Mother has arrived), she says matter-of-factly.

“What is he going to do about it?” I ask, suspecting that Gyanesh is stricken by measles.

“Nothing. There’s nothing to be done. One shouldn’t administer any medication,” says Shyamdev Mandal, who now joins us at the counter.

Savitri goes into the kitchen and brews us some chai.

“I am going to the hatia to purchase some items”, Shyamdev Mandal informs me.

“For Diwali?”, I ask, alluding to the festival of lights which will be celebrated later tonight.

Arre Diwali is in the evening. I am going to buy wood with which I can frame a window,” he says, pointing to a niche by the counter, which has been marked out for that purpose.