cousins

Post 56, Ludhiana/Jammu

12 noon: Pradeep and I chat on the phone. Pradeep tells me the weather in Jammu has improved since it has become warmer. About ten people from the vicinity of Sargana arrived yesterday to Araniya to work with Pradeep: their trip was organised by one of Pradeep’s co-workers, Akhilesh. His nephew Sundar will leave for Araniya as soon as the Saraswati Puja is over and the idols are immersed (clearly, Shailendra’s efforts to persuade his cousins and neighbours had failed, since Sundar appears to be involved in another Saraswati Puja in Sargana). His own son Rajendra, who has been in Sargana for a few months, will leave for Jammu after Holi. He is presently tending to the wheat crop on their family farm.

Post 22, Balmaripur

7:20 p.m.: Shailendra informs me that he is hopeful of completing work on the dome in a few days. It is taking much longer than expected because he is alone and the work is very fine, requiring a great deal of concentration. He expects that Sundar and his brother will join him next week.

Shailendra’s mobile has been repaired, and he is able to watch movies again.  He watched Ramta Jogi again last night, and tells me how much the film moves him each time he sees it. The film is about the tragic romance between a Dalit (“untouchable”) mechanic and a Savarna (“high-caste”) student. However, Shailendra doesn’t like the way it concludes, with the boy being killed by the girl’s parents even after they got married.

“Why did the director have to kill the boy?” he exclaims. “Why couldn’t they just show a successful inter-caste marriage?”

“Of course”, Shailendra reasons, “our society is like this, so such an ending is real. But the ending could have been more optimistic.”

Post 20, Balmaripur

5:00 p.m.: Shailendra has completed laying out the tiles on one of the smaller domes of the gurdwara.  He will now proceed to complete the construction of the temple’s grand dome, rather than working on the hall as he had mentioned earlier.

“For work in the hall, I will wait till Sundar and his brother return to Balmaripur. There’s a lot of other work to be done in any case. Completing the grand dome and then laying out the tiles on it; decorating the columns that hold up the ceiling; completing the jhalar (brick-and-mortar decorations), etc. I will proceed with those, and once my cousins and others return, we will work on the hall.”

Shailendra’s mobile is giving him trouble. Although he can make and receive calls, he is unable to watch any movies. So, he plans to hand it in for repairs in Ludhiana town.