Manoj [Part 1 - English]

Texte Indien 1 | Varkala, Kerala, February 2011

Varkala is central point for our trips in the south of Kerala. We met Manoranjan Chand in the little town at the Malabar-Coast. Mid of February we decided, to record some of his stories about his hard way.
With a glass of Fresh Lime Soda in the MalaBar we started thinking about questions for him. Some Fresh Lime Soda later there were enough questions sweaten out in the notebook. We appointed a meeting with Manoj and realised the records at one of those tropical hot afternoons end of February in the shadow of some sandal wood trees.

Following the first part of the records in the English original,

Namasthe. I´m Manoj and I´m coming from Orissa which is located in East India. My full name is Manoranjan Chand. Now I´m working in South India, it´s a small state called Kerala, and it´s from here to my home around two thousand kilometer, and all my family is living in Orissa still. But my younger brother he is working with me here now for the last three years. And I have an older brother who is still at home and my parents are also in Orissa.

Perhaps we can start with a short lifeline from you …

O.K Acutally I was born in 1985, so I´m twentysix now. I lived in my home until when I was fifteen years old, somehow I could not finish my studies because in 1999 in my state we had a really big cyclone and for that reason I had to leave home.
So then I came to Delhi for work. Then I stayed in Delhi for three years and it was a good experience for me, I meen I suffered a lot in Delhi, but it was really a good experience for me that I did it and everything was fine and that´s why maybe I´m here now and I´m doing good.

Manoranjan Chand

What are the first experiences as you were a child ?

I remember very well one moment in my life, when I was in school. We had a kind of a local fruit tree, so we get those small fruits and I brought this fruits to my friends in my school. So they always waited for me. “When is Manoj coming, when he´s coming, when he´s coming?”, because I always brought them this fruits. So I always remember that, because still I remember all of my friends because I saw how they are.
Because I left my home for a long time ago now, so they are grown up now of course but I still remember how they are when we were kids. I still remember the faces and how they always look of me if I do not bring the fruit sometimes. “Oh why did you not bring fruit and what happened?” and they will not be so friendly to me. And next I have to bring them twice. So this I always remember from my childhood.
And also when I was a little more grown up when I was eight years old. Because actually in my family we had no sister so I had to take the household. I don´t know if you know or not: Cause if you are a girl in India so you have to do the household. Boys, like my brothers go to play or do something else, so I have to help my mother. We were a farmer family so my mother has to go to work. So I have to clean.
And I had two cows and I loved my cows very much. And I always go for pick grass for them. And one day I went to pick the grass and I cut my finger very badly. So I could not get any grass for her. We had two cows.
I did not go for two days. So I can feel I remember my cows face now she was really crying for me, and what was the reason.
What I can see when I remember the face that she was really sad and she was really crying when I saw her.
When could not bring her the grass for two days she was always looking at my face and I can see the tears.
At that time I think I was eight or nine years old or ten. I remember that moment very much.
And another moment, then I was really grown up. I was twelve. In the school I was not a good student, cause I always concentrated on my family´s housework and because I have to clean my home and like take care of the two cows and cooked for my family. And I always would like to cook the best food.

What ever I do I want to do the best.

Because also what we do in my hometown where we are living. It´s like a small village. So my neighbour, when we cook food we share this food with everybodys house.
So they bring their food and I share my food with theIr house, so we share like this. So that´s why I want to cook the best one. So that´s why the people like me very much because I was cooking the best food. So that´s why always when I clean I always clean very well because I always think when my mother will come back that she will be happy when she see all is clean and she see´s always all it´s very good. So that´s a reason I really did not concentrate more in my study so I was really like a household thing. So yes, that I remember, that I was really, how can I say, really like a girl like an indian girl in my whole childhood. Not whole childhood, I must say that I left my home when I was fifteen, until lets say twelve or thirteen I was like a girl like working you know picking up grass or cooking or I don´t know what else to do. That is how it is in India. A girl has to do all this things like a housewife. Because I had no sister, so that how was my childhood was.

And how did this role impact your life ?

Well I think from this role like as a girl I think someway I´m living now, I think that will be the reason that I was so. Because I´m a person I don´t like to fight and I always stay away from violence things I´m really scared of that. I really fear to go when there is violence or fighting each other. And also maybe it’s also a good thing that I live like that and I still I´m a little bit like a girl – still!
Because it´s a difficult situation, cause as a man I have to be a man sometimes.
And I am and being a man, but sometimes I feel like I am a little down because I´m not really fighting so much for me for so many things in my life.

I think somewhere I´m happy how I am and about the experience I carry with me. But sometime it´s difficult too, because of the traditional things.

And the way in India like a man has to be really a man. And they have to fight for everything and they have stand like here and they have to be, you know, like really strong and this things. And someways I can feel it I´m strong enough, but not strong enough for our society, because our society is very different, it is really a mans world in India you know. I think that is sometime I have a little difficulty with this.
Otherwise to live like this I´m fine I´m very happy. People like me and I have no enemies. All my friends I have like let’s say where I´m working I have no disturbes and I have no fight with anyone at one time. So everybody likes me and I like them very much. So I think all what is happening to me with these things like friendliness and to be always calm.
So this is a good point I think that how I became like a girl. So I think therefore I´m like this, but somehow it is nice. I think it is good. Yes it´s good.

And what happened that you had to leave your home ?

What happened, was, that actually in 1999 we had a supercyclon in Orissa. And at that time as I told you, I was really taking care of my home so than what happened was, my family was not so a rich family, because we were three boys and my father was only working. And so what happened the cyclone was continuing for twentyfour hours and after thirty hours my home was starting to fall down so we had to move to another house, like our neighbour house, but while we are moving my father somehow a brick fall down on my fathers leg so it did not break, but he had leave us. Because he could not go to hospital for a long time because it was always blocked because the hospital was closed so and than he got impacts in his leg and we had really big trouble financially. And I could not see this and my older brother he was a bit naughty and he doesn´t really care about this things. He was just free and he was just with friends. And for me, cause I like my family and my younger brother he was very young still he was quite young to go for work outside because he was still studying, he was still student at the time, I was student too but I really could not stand this anymore. My mother was really crying and we had no house to live and we have to repair our house and we were running out of money and so I really couldn´t stand.

So one day I decided to go somewhere and it was the first time for me to go somewhere.

I was fifteen years and I met a guy, somebody who was living in Delhi for a long time. So then I asked him where I can get a job and he said: “O.K. you just come with me”. And that´s how I came for work to Delhi. It was really hard time.
Actually I came by train and actually how I must get to the train I remember. It was first time that I´m going to see a train. I´ve never seen a train. I know that there is a train like this, but I´ve never seen a train in my life because where I´m living is a village, a really small village and it´s like 60 km away from the railway station. So it´s a big city where the railway station is, but I´ve never been there. So like to go to a big city and get the train that’s like a dream for me like something
I was nervous, so much nervous because I never was out of home and I was following him. And see that’s why I think he was at that moment I think he was a god or something, cause I was just following him whatever he says, every step. I have no idea because I´ve get out of my home and I left my home actually because I ask my mother to go: “I want to go”. And she said: “No you are so young you have to finish your study, whatever and you cannot”. But finally I couldn´t stand anymore than I decided to left home. And than I decided to left without knowing my family. I just left like that.
And somehow I get in the train. And the train we had to travel was local train and there was like a small one buggy like one box. Maybe if you are travelling a little comfortable it is for maybe sixty to eighty persons can sit comfortably. And I think there were two hundred or three hundred persons. Two hundred people in that buggy so for one and a half days almost two days. You have to stand without going any toilet, without doing anything, without getting any food.
But it was O.K. because than I thought, that is the way of travelling in the train cause I don´t know anything about the train so I thought: “Ah that is the train, that is how you travel in the train”.

So it was O.K.