One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
She is mumbling something to herself. The Delhi Walla meets her one morning on a congested lane near Turkman Gate, one of the four surviving gateways of the Walled City.
“Hello, mother,” I say.
She smiles and keeps walking ahead.
The woman’s hair is grey. Dressed in a red salwar kurta that is printed with pale-green floral patterns, she has a dark yellow dupatta arranged around her neck. She is wearing rubber slippers.
Her head is tilted at a sharp angle towards her left shoulder.
Is she suffering from Dropped Head Syndrome, a neuromuscular disorder?
“Don’t give her money,” a man warns me. “She will throw it back at you.”
Mohammed Zakir, an auto-rickshaw driver, lives in the vicinity.
“Who is she?” I ask him.
“I have been seeing her in Turkman Gate for twenty years,” he says. “She never talks to anyone. People give her food, but she never accepts money.”
The woman is walking past a tea house. A homeless man is sleeping in front of a shuttered shop.
“What could be her name?”
“Nobody knows,” says Mr Zakir. “She has nothing to do with people and people have nothing to do with her.”
The woman stops to look at a procession of donkeys.
“She is not mad,” says Mr Zakir. “Mad people create fuss. They do something. But she never does anything. She never bothers anybody. She just walks and walks and walks and when she is tired, she stands under the sun – for hours! She always looks carefree.”
On reaching Asaf Ali Road, the woman turns left towards the direction of Delhi Stock Exchange. I watch her till she disappears from sight.
[This is the 60th portrait of Mission Delhi project]