10:30 a.m.: Shyamdev Mandal is sweeping the courtyard in front of his house. His son Gyanesh sits at the counter of their shop, talking to someone on his mobile. He wears a jacket and a pair of jeans while his father wraps a shawl over his half-sleeve sweater. Since Ganesh’s hands are free (he is using a pair of black earphones), he is arranging the items in the shop while chatting.
The creases on Shyamdev Mandal’s forehead betray his anxiety. He has still not managed to repair the roof, since he hasn’t managed to procure enough straw.
“It is really getting too much for me. I have to do everything here. This shop that you see… I am the only who is doing anything about it.,” he despairs.
He continues: “All I want is for him (pointing to Gyanesh) to study a bit. Is that too much for a father to expect? If he studied and sat his exams, I will be satisfied.”
Lowering his voice, Shyamdev confesses: “We are facing financial difficulties. This shop has required quite a bit of investment. And we have had to do it all by ourselves- the Bank officials have still not approved my application for a loan.”
As Shyamdev goes inside the hut, Gyanesh concludes his conversation on the phone. He then invites me to sit at the counter by him. He has brought a cup of chai for me.
“I long to go away from here,” he tells me matter-of- factly. “There are too many altercations at home. People telling you what to do… not liking what you want to. I want some peace of mind. I just want to leave home… don’t want to stay here any more.”