Mission Delhi – PM Sahay, Connaught Place
One of the one per cent in 13 million.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Standing against a pillar, his head lowered, he slips the pink duck-faced puppets into his hands and waves weakly. The passers-by don’t notice. The Delhi Walla meets PM Sahay one evening in B Block, Inner Circle, Connaught Place, Delhi’s Colonial-era commercial district. A pavement hawker, he is 74.
“At this age shouldn’t you stay home?” I ask him.
Mr Sahay is a saritorialist’s man. His ironed bluish-white full-sleeved shirt is tucked into his pleated light-brown trouser that has a black leather belt. His brown shoes are polished. With his white hair and brown-rimmed glasses, he looks like a retired bureaucrat.
Mr Sahay walks towards the next block. Taking each step is an effort. “My legs ache,” he says. “The doctor says that tests are needed but that’s expensive.” The Inner Circle corridor is lined with thick round pillars. Mr Sahay draws energy by supporting himself against these columns, as he walks past them one by one.
“I come everyday from Rohtak,” he says in his frail voice, referring to a town 50km from Delhi. “I’ve a wife, a married daughter and her children to support.” Mr Sahay has a rail pass that enables him to commute daily to Delhi for a monthly sum of Rs 160. He leaves home at 2.30 pm and returns by 11 in the night. At (old) Delhi railway station, a wholesale trader gives him 20 pairs of puppets, which he hawks in Connaught Place, where he reaches by the metro. Each pair is priced at Rs 40. “I’ve sold just two and now it’s time to leave.” The puppets are stuffed in an orange cloth bag hanging from his left shoulder.
Mr Sahay’s neighbours in Rohtak are ignorant of his salesmanship. “If they discover that I sell toys in Delhi’s streets, we’ll be disgraced.”
It’s getting dark. The mannequins at a Levi showroom are bathed in orange glow. The corridor’s lamps have been lit. Mr Sahay walks out into the open. He sits down on a stack of manhole covers placed beside a rubbish bin. A man emerges from a jewelry shop and gives him chai without exchanging greetings; it seems a routine service. Mr Sahay takes out a packet of Parle G biscuits from his trouser pocket.
“I retired as a bank manager. We had a son. He had done chartered accountancy. A few years ago I spent all my savings for him to start his office in Delhi. But he moved to Bahrain without informing us. Two years ago, we heard that he had died in an accident. We could not even see his body. Now, there’s nobody to earn so I must work.”
Mr Sahay dips a biscuit into the chai and looks at the shopping crowd. After emptying the plastic glass, he gets up. “My train will leave in another hour. Goodbye.”
[This is the 47th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
The life of a sales man
Hi Mayank. I have actually met this man, at least twice in front of Wengers. At the time, I got scared at the way he was flashing the puppet in my face. But I feel really bad now, and the next time i see hi, ill definately help him out. Will try to find him for sure.
Thanks. I realised the time was mentioned after I had posted the comment.
What time does he usually make an appearance?
As Mayank mentioned, afternoon till evening…
a very poignant piece…allow me to quote from ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, ” A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret; that every room in every one of them encloses its own secret; that every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there, is, in some of its imaginings, a secret to the heart nearest it!”
The vagaries of life.. thanks for this portrait.
OMG! Next time i go to CP, i am gonna buy his whole bag and will also give him a drop to the train station.
The courage of some people jolts you out of your comfortable existence. He is an inspiration. A true hero. Thanks for writing this. Next time I am in CP, I ll definitely go meet him.
How easily we pass by the realities of life, without even giving them a look. we have become so cruel, our senses have been dulled by the fakeness around us. May God bless you for writing this.
aww,,he’s like the old lady i saw last week selling socks at the inner circle..i hurt me t see her like that.if i had money (was almost broke and i couldnt give her the remaining money..she was not a beggar) ..i swear i would have bought as many pairs i could with that money.
oh no no nooooooooooo,Mayank.hila diya yaar
This is really sad…hurts to hear an old person struggle like this. Could we all do something bout this? Beside buying his products..and in keeping with his self respect and esteem.
Mayank, I wud like to make a small monetary contribution to Mr. Sahay. I think it wud perhaps have to be in cash. Cud u pass it along to Mr Sahay, if I dropped it at ur place? Or suggest something better. Pls revert on email. Thx
Tears almost have started to trickle down. This man it seems is as young as any other full of life, full of energy to lead a dignified life. Unfortunately such stories are not given a space in the mainstream media as in the present world everything has been commercialised. You are doing works that can shake the reader.
Honestly, I too have my eyes moist after reading this. We at times anathemise and crib for numerous reasons; job, salary packages, house, holidays…but honestly every time I read Mayank’s blog and see people coping hardness with a smile on their face, I thank god endlessly with what all he has given me.
I saw this old man outside Wengers too, and he looked so cute and frail, that both my friend and I bought the toys he was hawking. But I wondered why the old, good-natured man was selling toys there..
What a shame.
A very good article pointed out by Delhiwalla..this the positive side of Social Media…We should promote such articles in order to help them…
I salute the bravery of this Uncle..Sahay..
You must print this in your next book. one of the best articles. Mr Sahay all the best in your struggle of life. Wish you good health and great profit.
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