Post 46, Sargana

10:15 a.m.: Shyamdev Mandal feeds a chapatti to his cow, which is tethered to a bamboo pole outside his shop. He is wearing his sweater and jacket as usual, and has wrapped a shawl around him.

“Does she produce any milk?” I ask.

“Yes, a tiny bit,” he replies. “About 1.25 litres every day.”

“What do you do with it?” I enquire. “Do you sell it?”

Shyamdev Mandal rolls his eyes. “Seriously? That’s too little milk to sell! You obviously have no idea of these things”, he guffaws. “Its for the children. Just enough for them.”

10:30 a.m.: Shyamdev Mandal finishes feeding his cow, then starts sweeping the courtyard. “Have you heard what happened at the school last night?”, he asks me. I shake my head. He then proceeds to tell me of the robbery of a computer from its premises.

Can you imagine? The computer cost INR 3 lakhs. 80% of the children did not even get to see it. What an incompetent bunch of jokers manage the school, I tell you!

I was shell-shocked. Shyamdev Mandal now launches into a tirade against the school teachers:

It’s the m******f*****g teachers, of that I am sure. They must have engineered it. I even doubt [in English] that the computers ever came into the school- no one seems to have seen them.

He continues:

If there is one good thing the government has done, it is to contractualise the posts of school teachers in this State. Serves the s*****f*****s right.

Gyanesh is unwell, Shyamdev Mandal informs me. He’s caught a chill.