Zaheeb Ajmal reports:
10 a.m.: Harish Rishi and I sit in the courtyard that he shares with his brothers, sipping chai. He is anxious about the debt of INR 50,000 he has incurred over the marriage of his elder daughter earlier this year. One of his creditors is Damodar Rajak, with whom he has mortgaged his land for two years in return for INR 20,000.
“Work in Punjab is god-sent for us. Here in Sargana, there is hardly any work. Where there is work, there are no payments. Where there are payments, there is no dignity. At least in Punjab, they recognise our worth as human beings,” he says.
“There was a time,” Harish elaborates on his last remark, “when we could not even cremate our dead properly. We would have to quietly bury the dead by the river. Now, we can properly cremate the body. However, we still do not have a common cremation ground in the village.”