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Post 32, Sargana

10:40 a.m.: Shyamdev Mandal sits at his shop, attending to his various customers. A woman in her 40s, wearing a green sari, wants to purchase some items. Shyamdev reminds her that she has yet to pay for items she purchased yesterday. Looking up the note book in which he lists all the individuals who have yet to pay for items they purchased, Shyamdev tells her she owes him INR 33. The woman protests, saying she had indeed cleared all her dues. But Shyamdev insists that she has not. Eventually, the woman agrees with him and clears all her pending payments.

Gyanesh Mandal is at his mama's (maternal uncle) house. His mama has procured some ‘guess papers’, past exam papers on the basis of which students can prepare for forthcoming exams. He instructed Gyanesh to come and collect them so that he could be ahead of the curve.

Credit: Zaheeb Ajmal

Credit: Zaheeb Ajmal

Post 25, Sargana

8:30 a.m.: I am at Shyamdev’s shop, where he is chatting with his uncle Arjun Mandal. Posters of Shiva as well as of Shyamdev’s guru Anukul Chandra adorn one of the walls. Arjun Mandal commends Shyamdev for his enterprise. He then tells me that Shyamdev lost his father when he was only five. For him to now be the owner of his own establishment, tiny though it is, is a major achievement. Shyamdev asks his son Jitendra to make some chai, although Arjun Mandal insists he must be on his way. Shyamdev prevails. Jitendra jokingly warns Arjun Mandal not to move an inch till the chai is made, otherwise he would be charged INR 5 for one cup.

9:00 a.m.: Arjun Mandal takes our leave. Shyamdev tells me that Gyanesh is scheduled to leave Kerala on October 2 and will arrive into Sargana by the 6th. After that, he will have to decide what he wants to do. If he wants to resume his studies, Shyamdev will be happy to sponsor it- he hopes the income from his shop will be adequate. But if Gyanesh wants to return to Kerala, he is fine with that too. He will accompany his son, while his wife manages the shop.

Credit: Zaheeb Ajmal

Credit: Zaheeb Ajmal