Thank God it’s a Monday
Sujit Chandra Kumar
Workers of the world may be united or not but Malayali workers are definitely united on one count. Of late, Monday, the first day of the week, has actually become a second Sunday, for most of them. I became familiar with this trend while getting an unnecessary second floor done recently. Well, that is another Mallu trait; to make mansions of the size that one doesn’t really require but more of that another time perhaps.
Work would drag on and come to a grinding halt invariably on Saturdays. I would ask the contractor why his men didn’t turn up and he would talk about how a neighbour of the main worker met with an accident or how another’s mom-in-law slipped on a banana and damaged her hip, so on and so forth. How come these incidents happen always on Saturdays I used to always wonder. But when there was no sign of them on Monday, the contractor wouldn’t offer any such excuse but simply say, “Monday, right?”
I had to make extensive inquiries to crack this mystery of the long weekend. An electrician was the one who finally threw some light on it. Working for four days from Tuesday meant that each had earned nearly 5000 rupees and that called for a mini celebration during the weekend, with what else but Indian Made Foreign Liquor, and the Sunday mood percolates to the following morning too.
The trend is limited to the indigenous worker while the ‘Bengali’ labourer –an umbrella term that covers those not only from Tagore’s land but also Bihar, UP, Assam and even Delhi – are seen trudging to work even on Sundays, with their packed lunch and paan parag. For them, it is but an equivalent of what the Gulf has been for Malayalis. They keep on working so that they could send money back to their mothers and sisters in their villages.
The Malayali workers, on the other hand, truly believe in living in the moment. They don’t care much about saving for the rainy day, which in this state is anyway almost all the year round. A sub contractor who handled my upstairs building used to arrive in a mid-sized car, all the way from Aluva to Kochi, making me wonder about how much of a margin there was in the contract to make it viable for him with the current fuel prices. Once or twice, he would demand 500 rupees since he had run out of cash for lunch. ‘You may make a note of it,” he would tell me, helpfully. He too had many accidents and deaths in his family on Saturdays during the four months it took to finish the work.
If the labour scene has been entirely taken over by the ‘Bengalis’, including the barber shops, fish and chicken outlets, restaurants, even coconut tree climbing, it is because of one reason: they rarely confuse a Sunday with a Monday.
Pic Courtesy: google/ images are subject to copyright