Conversation with Md. Akram and Irfan
-How long have you been working here?
– It has been ten years.
– Where is your home?
– Where in Bihar?
– (… )
-Where did you learn the song that you were chanting while working?
-We sing. If we don’t sing we can’t work.
-But where did you learn it from?
– The Malaysian engineers came and they taught us the forma.
-When metro was being built in Delhi, we learned it there from those Malaysians.
– The thing you were chanting while working, you learned it from them?
– Yes, from them only.
– But you speak in Hindi; they do not.
– They do speak in Hindi. They know it as they have travelled a lot.
– Okay. Are you all from the same place?
– Okay. Where did you work before this project?
– Did you not learn this work song back in your village?
– No. Where is this song in our village? It is here only as we work in this place. (1st worker)
– The Malaysian people who deal with train work, they taught us the work songs. (2nd worker)
– So you are saying that they are the actual people you learned it from?
– Isn’t there any song that you might have learned back home and you sing that while working?
– No no. We sing this song only. We can’t push and work if we don’t sing.
– Is there no such work to be done in your village? Maybe in the fields or something?
– No. There are no fields to be cultivated, no factories or anything.
– So you have learnt this song during work times?
– Does work gets done faster if you sing?
– Yes we work faster if we sing. Being silent won’t help us to do the heavy work.
– Do you listen to songs on radio or mobile while working?
– Other than this work song, do you ever sing in your free times?
– No. This is the only thing we chant.
– Who knows this song? One of you or all?
– Everyone knows it.
– How do you know what one is chanting?
– We just know it. If he starts chanting, I will know slowly and I will start chanting it with him. And when I’m gone someone else will take over my part and it goes on.
– Has it ever happened that someone who doesn’t understand your language or Hindi has come here?
– No nothing like that has happened. They all know the language.
– What is your name?
– Md. Akram.
– And yours?