Mission Delhi – Achhuta Nandan, Prithviraj Marg
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
He is sitting still. The Delhi Walla sees him on Prithviraj Marg, an avenue in the central part of the city, which is lined on both sides with residences of some of the country’s richest industrialists.
I walk towards him and (hesitantly) sit down by his side. He is holding a ten-rupee note in his fist.
He raises his eyes and says something inaudible.
“What did you say, sir?”
He seems to repeat himself but his voice is too faint.
“Acchutananandan,” or that’s what he seems to say.
He nods with a slow motion of his head.
“You live here?”
“I… (inaudible)… rail tracks.” He is speaking very slowly as if it is something he is not used to.
“Where are you from?” My ears are now warming up to the far-away sound of his voice.
After a minute-long pause, he adds, “Bhubaneswar.”
“And who now lives there?”
He nods. “Wife.”
“You have children?”
“So, why are you in Delhi?”
“I work in Udyog Bhawan.”
Udyog Bhawan houses the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
“So, why are you not at work today?”
He remains silent. I make a note of his beard, his sooty black coat and turban, and his long green nails.
“Sir, do you read books?”
He opens his lips to answer but then stops himself and lowers his eyes towards the ground. After a few minutes, he turns to me and says, “You go.”
I get up and start to walk towards The Claridges. A little later I turn back to look at him. He is no longer sitting. He is standing as still as a statue, and staring intently towards me.
[This is the 70th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
A silent song