Post 57, Ludhiana/Jammu/Araria

10:00 a.m.: Shailendra tells me on the phone that he is working at a construction site approximately three kilometres south of Sargana. He is part of a team of workers building a temple. While Shailendra does not know the name of the employer, he tells me he was ‘placed’ there by Damodar Rajak, the labour contractor who allocated him to constructing gurudwaras in Ludhiana.

Shailendra tells me that the project on which he was working in Barmalipur remains incomplete. Moreover, he has yet to be paid for 20 days of labour he had put into building the dome and the screens: the arrears to him amount to INR 32,000.

Shailendra will not stay in Sargana for long, he tells me. He plans to leave for Malerkotla after Holi, which this year is scheduled to be celebrated on March 12/ 13.

12 noon: I chat with Damodar Rajak, who is currently in Sargana. Damodar complains that demonetisation hit the construction market really hard, leaving builders with little capital with which to either purchase materials or pay their workers. All his worksites in and around Ludhiana have had to be abandoned, although he hopes to be able to bag a contract for supplying labourers to Malerkotla.

1 p.m.: Pradeep informs me that his son Sundar, who is currently in Sargana, has delayed his return to Jammu and Kashmir. Instead of returning by the end of February, as he had initially planned, he will now return after Holi in mid-March. Pradeep himself hopes to finish the work on the church within a few days and proceed to Jammu.

Post 26, Sargana

Zaheeb Ajmal reports:

9 a.m.: Harish Rishi and his wife Parvati spruce up the front of their home on the occasion of the ten-day long Dussehra festival: today is the first day, when people commemorate the goddess Durga’s arrival at her natal home. Parvati applies a paste of cow dung and water to the mud platform and steps leading into their hut, while Harish sweeps the courtyard.

They will proceed to the village temple along with Pradeep’s wife Shanti for the Kalasthapan (initiation ceremony of the festival for this year) in a little while.

Pradeep calls me from Poonch and wishes me for Dussehra.

Credit: Zaheeb Ajmal

Credit: Zaheeb Ajmal