Ramdas works in Texmaco Limited. He has been serving his sentence at the fitting shop for the last 24 years. Still today he is yet to fall in love with his job. When the siren sounds at six in the evening, he knows he has a home. His granddaughter comes running to him, thrusting him her tattered notebook with numbers spangled across the margins. Ramdas doesn’t know how to read; never had the means to go to school. Yet when the six-year old with her oily braided hair babbles her tables, he knows with a lump in his throat that he has not been far from finding El Dorado.
Debu is a clerk in a local sari store. His days are drowned in an oily fluidity of fat ledger books and incantations of zealous retailers. He comes back home late at night, at eleven, and if the business is good, maybe twelve. His young wife waits for him at the veranda of his two-room cage. After chapatti and dal, he put on the transistor that he presented his wife on her birthday. When he sees the blue silhouette of his wife in the neons of a city that is fast asleep, he feels a breeze of a smile across his face. He realises his happiness of being.
Parimal sells vegetables at Sealdah station. His days are spent in the amnesia of bargains with local hoodlums for his space on the pavement, and haggling with daily passengers for two-penny profits. His evenings, tired and spent, hiding from the ticket checker at the vendors’ compartment. His nights, eyelids heavy with alcohol, barely make sense. Yet, when he lies in his poppy field, staring at the sky spread with puffed sympathetic clouds, he knows happiness cant be far.