Post 55, Ludhiana/Araria

10 a.m.: I speak with Sikendra on the phone. He sounds somewhat dejected. He tells me it has been his deeply-held desire to organise Saraswati Puja, a devotional meet to honour Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of learning, in his neighbourhood. The occasion is observed at the onset of spring, and the date this year was yesterday, February 1.

Shailendra’s disappointment stems from him being unable to persuade his neighbours to organise Saraswati Puja. He says he was even willing to pay half the expenditures, but his neighbours refused to contribute.

There is no work these days, Shailendra continues, referring to himself, for the first time since I have know him, as unemployed. Neither is there work in Ludhiana on the gurudwaras nor is their work on the farms in Araria, he says. Therefore, he has been spending time with his daughter, and hangs out with her and her friends in the marketplace during the day.  

He hopes to return to Ludhiana by the end of the month. Damodar Rajak, the contractor, thinks that by then the demand for the completion of the gurdwaras under construction would have picked up as people would have more cash to pay.