One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
She is in an orange saree. Her glass bangles are green. Her cardigan is pink. Her hand-sewn bag is of uncertain color.
One morning The Delhi Walla meets Sona Devi somewhere near Sahibabad, a village just outside the city limits. Ms Devi is seated in a shared auto rickshaw. She has a wooden staff. She looks deep in thought. At times, she turns her head and stares out of the glass window, perhaps towards the tall apartment buildings in the distance.
Finally, breaking her silence, she says, “I’m going for my work.”
Ms Devi is headed to Vaishali Metro station. There she stands outside the entrance and seeks money from commuters hurriedly walking into the station. “I usually spend my mornings there when it is more crowded,” she says. Later, Ms Devi heads out to Inter State Bus Terminus (ISBT) in nearby Anand Vihar. She remains there for the rest of the day, and returns home by six in the evening.
Ms Devi lives in a rented room in Sahibabad village, which is walking distance from many high-rise apartments. Lots of women employed as house maids in those apartments also live in this village. Ms Devi lives with her three daughters; they all stay at home. She is trying to find a man for her eldest.
The auto rickshaw stops for a customer. A young woman enters and sits beside Ms Devi, who responds to the new company by becoming quiet. The young woman watches the road scenes from the window on her side. For some reason, Ms Devi’s face acquires the expressions of a person who has just made a difficult decision. She now looks strong and determined.
Ms Devi arrives at her stop after a few minutes. She gets off, takes out a five rupee coin from inside her blouse, and hands it over to the auto rickshaw driver. She then walks into the crowd. Her day is beginning to unfold.
[This is the 108th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
On way to the work