It is in my home…. It is in my home.
What, what is in your home?
There are many thakur [gods/idols] in my home. They stay in my home… There will be a puja, a puja in seventeen days, we are fasting, we cannot eat. Whoever wants can roam in the house. No eating, no roaming.
…but, you made that house?
Yes, I made this house.
second seller: They are rich people –
We are very big people, we have a two-story, three-story house. And they are poor [jokingly referring to her fellows].
Were the gods in your house before or after you made the house?
No, they have been there for a long time, for many days. The people who used to live here earlier, even they knew they were here. Those people are dead now. Now there are new people here – their daughter-in-laws, grandmothers, daughters, grandsons, everyone. There was a hibiscus tree on the plot, they used to live on the tree. I cut the tree and made my home there.
Are they benevolent gods?
Yes, they’re good.
This is where we stay, Madhavpur village, and from this point, which we are crossing, there is the division, the post office is different. On the other side are about 150 houses. This area is called Harpara. Here there are 300-500 houses, it is a big area. I’ll bring you to Shikha’s house too, it is a bit deeper inside. I will take you around.
[To her family members, keeping walking] Hey, these are kutumb [friends]! Prepare rice, prepare food!
This is my brother’s wife, this is my brother’s son’s wife… This was my father’s house… My family is all here, I was born here, I live here, my everything is here.
Not many people do the vegetable business here; only four-five women in my village. The others mostly work in the houses of people, of babus in Barasat. The men drive vans, tend to fields – a poor man’s life – some are day labourers, get work informally or through contacts…
So, now you see how far I live!
It’s not sooo far…
From the place where the van drops us, Shikha’s house is quite far away, especially if you have to walk at night; my place is a bit closer.
Is there illumination?
Yes, there are lamps in the main road; there are also lights in people’s houses on the verandahs.
I made this house 5, 6 years ago. Prices have doubled. Bricks were rs 1 then, five-six years ago. Now think, I wouldn’t be able to make this house now, with these double prices. Now I can’t do this anymore. With all my work cutting kochu, I had done it then, but not now. The bathroom and bathing room and all cost 10,000Rs. Now it would be 30,000. Everything is more expensive, everything. See, these windows – if I bought them I had to pay 13,000Tk. Luckily, there were trees around the house, we cut them and made them. I paid 10,000Tk to the carpenter. Now people say this old lady lives in comfort and luxury, but only I know how much I have struggled to make this happen. I have no bank balance; I have made a home for my family, for a better future, fed them well, not made a bank balance. I bought this sack of potatoes, I sent half to my daughter’s home, and kept half for this house; this sack will last her through the rainy season.
This [indicating a photo] is my father, but I cannot offer prayers for him because I have had a grand-daughter, and they say that only after a celebration will have happened, will I begin again. I will call you for that. On that day, the bride and her child offer prayers, and they will be purified by the Brahmin priest. After one month passes, we will call a Brahmin priest, and we will invite people. This is called shashti puja. Now we cannot worship the gods because the gods will not accept food from us. Because there is an impurity in our body, since a child has been born. The gods [meaning the idols in her home] won’t eat, they can’t even be touched. Some people do it for 21 says, some for 30 days, some don’t even do it. But I am not of that type, I have gods in my home. I will do as I will. I will go and invite a Brahmin pandit, he will come, the child will need to have a new blouse, sari, petticoat, garland, the children will have new clothes, pants, all new. We need a lot of things. After buying all the things we need, we will invite people and have a ritual. You should come, I’ll call you, You don’t know it, you’ll understand the Hindu tradition then.