One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The most remarkable thing about him is his face. It bears astounding resemblance to the dying face of Delhi’s last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar. (see photo below).
But he has no e-mail.
He has no mobile phone.
He has no Aadhar card.
He has no voter’s I-card.
He has no PAN (Permanent Account Number) card.
He has no credit card.
He has no driving license.
He has no BPL (Below Poverty Line) card.
He has no educational certificate.
He has no bag.
He has no change of clothes.
He has no name. Or, at least, nobody knows his name. He has not told anybody his name. He does not speak. People say he is unable to speak. They also say he cannot hear. They also say that he is physically disabled and is unable to walk properly.
However, he has a long white beard, and he has a silver-colored bracelet on his right arm.
The Delhi Walla meets The Man With No Name one late night in Osama Dhaba, a pavement kebab stall in Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti, the Central Delhi village that takes its name from its great Sufi shrine.
There are no customers at the eatery. The Man With No Name is seated on a bench. The garbage-strewn street is lined with flower sellers. The man spends the day quietly in the company of alm seekers. He arrived in the area about three years ago, says Muhammed Akib Raza of Osama Dhaba. Mr Raza says that the elderly man probably came from Gujarat though he offers no reason to substantiate this guess. He also adds that the man is looked after by the kindness of the locality’s food-stall owners.
At night, The Man With No Name sleeps on the pavement, or on one of flower carts if it happens to be empty. During the brief time we were together, he was barely communicative. At one point, he took off his cap. His forehead had a curious-looking mark as if somebody had drilled a deep hole into it. Perhaps it is from some old injury, Mr Akib helpfully says.
The Man With No Name is certainly not the master of many possessions, although these days it is difficult to find a beggar without at least a mobile phone. But he does have a walking stick. Before leaving, I make a gesture to the man to show me his palms–and he obliges. It turns out that the man’s few possessions include a couple of fate lines, too.
[This is the 110th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
Alone in the world
1. (The Man With No Name)
2. (Bahadur Shah Zafar on his death bed)
5. (with Muhammed Akib Raza)