‘The Guilt Of Being Away From Home On Diwali’

“Rs. 20 for a dozen flowers.” “Rs. 15 for this garland…that one is for Rs. 20.” “That festoon? Rs. 100.”

“My grandfather makes all these products. Then, we ferry the decorative artificial items across the state for a week a year during Diwali. I went to Gaya last year; all the products were sold.” “We are trying luck here this time. Let us see.”

“The fact is that we could not sell much this year– or, hopefully, Diwali may help us today. We move in a group– few friends.” “We came here on 25th, …spending nights in the lodge. The final earnings will be shared, and lodging charges will be paid accordingly.”

“I am a teli [caste name for traditional oil expellers]. However, we do not do it anymore. Grandfather switched to this profession, but that is still scooping a paltry income…We have to survive”

“Who does not want to celebrate festivals with the family? We are also humans. Since this menial is seasonal, we must move outside on such occasions. If we do not earn now, we will not be able to celebrate Chhath, the mahaparva or mega festival of Bihar.”

“After the sale is over…? We sell these items to wholesale merchants at a very cheap price. That is an annual affair.”

“Yesterday I sold products of Rs. 600 over 12 hours– that is selling price–I do not exactly know how much profit I made…I think it was approximately Rs. 200. Others, like me, earn Rs. 300 a day, at most Rs. 500. That is only for three days– Dhanteras to Diwali.”

“I am pursuing intermediate courses in science stream.” “Yes, Biology discipline, but there are a lot of financial problems at home…how will I continue studies? That sounds luxury to us. I am quitting. There are many like me. I am not alone. What else? Getting into this line with expectations to earn some money…”

“I am going home by tomorrow.”

– Pankaj Kumar, 19, a resident of Susta Mela locality of Muzaffarpur district of Bihar.

Please, feel free to write to us at editor.thebuoy@protonmail.com if you want to help Pankaj in any possible way. Do mention IUP1 in subject-line.

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