Post 54, Sargana

3 p.m.: Shyamdev Mandal sits at his shop, but he looks extremely annoyed.

“I have work to do,” he informs me, “so someone needs to attend to this shop.”

He continues: “I had asked the two boys (referring to his sons) to attend to the shop. But neither of them are to be seen. They must be smoking marijuana somewhere”

Shyamdev’s wife has gone to meet some relatives. He continued, anger oozing from every pore of his visage:

All this (he points to the shop and the goods stored therein) is for my boys. But they just don’t understand, the irresponsible motherf****rs. They were sitting around the whole morning, but have disappeared exactly when they should be here.

Even as he speaks, he stands up suddenly at the counter and steps out of the shop muttering: “I don’t care either. If they are not interested, why should I be? I have loads of work to attend to. Forget it all…”

Disappointment now writ large across his face, Shyamdev begins to shut the door of the shop.

Post 9, Sargana

4 p.m.: The election results for the position of the Panchayat President are being announced. The votes are counted in a room at the Block Head Quarters, while the names of successful candidates are being announced over loudspeaker. The place is crowded with people, especially supporters of victorious candidates. However, I cannot see Shyamdev Mandal among the assembled people. I soon realise that the candidate he supported, Manya Rishi, has lost: she secured barely 5% of all the votes counted. This is not entirely unexpected: her husband is often away to Punjab for work, and people fear that she may not be able to run the Panchayat without a constant male presence. Indeed, the post is bagged by Purnima Rajak, whose husband owns a small shop in the main bazaar. Purnima’s supporters erupt in joy when news of her success is relayed.

Shyamdev Mandal later tells me he left when it became obvious that Mandya Rishi was staring at defeat.