Post 22, Sargana

3:30 p.m.: Shyamdev Mandal sits by the machan in his house. He informs me that his application for a loan has yet to be approved. The bank manager wants him to first establish the shop, paint it and stock some items for sale in it. Only thereafter will he approve the loan. According to Shyamdev, the manager told him,

“What if you don’t use the money I approve for a shop? Indeed, what if you disappear with the money- people like you have no address, you keep moving from place to place?”

As a result, Shyamdev is back to square one- with no initial capital to invest. He is now enquiring into the possibility of obtaining a loan from family or friends of up to INR 2000. In the meantime, he will continue to cultivate vegetables in the small plot of land he owns. I ask him whether he cultivated paddy, to which he says,

“I haven’t got the manpower for paddy. If Gyanesh, my elder son, were here, I could have considered. But since he is away, and has no interest in farming, I don’t think it is possible for me to manage growing paddy.”

Shyamdev tells me Gyanesh will be back home in 15 days. His son-in-law is returning on the 25th, but Gyanesh’s leave has been approved for later. Shyamdev’s understanding is that the company is paying the travel fare for Gyanesh, which means it wants Gyanesh to go back to working for them. He says he is more and more convinced that it would be a good deal to accompany his son to Kerala whenever he returns.

Post 21, Sargana

11:15 a.m.: I am at Shyamdev Mandal’s home. Shyamdev has just finished his bath at the handpump. He brings over two cups of lemon tea (black tea with a dash of lime). As we sip on the tea, he informs me that Gyanesh has not arrived yet. He infers that Gyanesh will probably not come home anytime soon, but cannot say for sure since he has been unable to make contact with his son-in-law, with whom Gyanesh stays and works.  Shyamdev says he will call again this evening. Looking somewhat lost, he mentions that he will persuade his son to stay back whenever he returns. If he insists on going back to work, Shyamdev says, he- Shyamdev- will also accompany him.

Shyamdev is also anxious about the loan for which he had applied. The bank manager has not yet approved it, and has been asking him to keep coming back with this or that document.

To add to his anxieties, he had invested some funds with an enterprise he calls, who are now refusing to pay him back his principal and interest. The enterprise is based in Kolkata.

The creases on Shyamdev’s forehead are exceptionally prominent today as he recounts his numerous worries.