Mission Delhi – Muhammed Anwar, Hazrat Nizamuddin Chilla
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The elderly fakir has always felt a sense of peace living year after year alongside a graveyard in the Sufi shelter of Hazrat Nizamuddin’s Chilla.
“I like being by myself, I like tanhai (solitude),” declares Muhammed Anwar—although he does have a bunch of cats and a couple of dogs for company. The isolated composure of this Central Delhi graveyard “provides me with sukoon (calm), and makes me feel close to the creator.” The 70-year-old left his home in Kolkata as a young man and never returned.
Did he ever think of his parents? “They must have died. And my brothers must have their own families to look after.” Come nighttime, Mr Anwar sleeps in a bed laid on the stone floor of an adjacent ruin where he’s slept for some 30 years. During the day he’ll often sit for hours amid the tombs in quiet contemplation. And oftentimes he simply venture out of the graveyard, like office people leaving their apartments for the day, and walking along the road, often visiting the city’s many Sufi shrines.
Simply clad, he wears a beaded necklace and three finger rings: One of them obtained from a skeleton accidentally unearthed by construction labourers. The graveyard lies next to one of Delhi’ most-visited monuments (Humayun’s Tomb) and also close to a busy rail station. Yet it manages to remain serene as Mr Anwar now completes his breakfast of roti with chai.
The remainder of the day might find him sitting quietly among the tombs, or perhaps a stroll on the Mathura Road. In the end, he always returns to his graveyard.
[This is the 64th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
Muhammed Anwar of Hazrat Nizamuddin Chilla