Post 27, Sargana

10:45 a.m.: Shyamdev Mandal sits on the machan outside his hut, while his younger son Jitendra manages the counter. He is worried because his wife has not been well. The doctor has asked her to get some tests done, and they are awaiting the results.

Shyamdev is further upset because he has heard no news from his son. His son-in-law returned to his village last week, and they were anticipating Gyanesh’s return this week. But there has been no news from Gyanesh at all. It’s the fifth day of the ten-day long Dussehra festival, and it would have been nice if Gyanesh had been able to join them.

Credit: Zaheeb Ajmal

Credit: Zaheeb Ajmal

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 17, Sargana

11:45 a.m.: Shyamdev Mandal and I speak on the mobile. He tells me he has been trying to get in touch for the past few days with his son Gyanesh who is working at a footwear manufacturing firm in Kerala, but has not been successful. Gyanesh has been assigned the night shift, which means he can’t talk at night and sleeps during the day. Moreover, he does not have a mobile, and relies on his sister’s husband, who works in the same factory as him, to make or receive calls.