A whole world
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Is there anything more beautiful in the world than a woman with a room of her own?
The person The Delhi Walla is talking of lives in a room filled with books. She also writes poetry. She paints too–her latest creation is an Amaltas tree (see top photo).
One evening I entered Tahmina Laskar’s home in Abul Fazal Enclave-I. Her room is on the second floor. The balcony faces a similar sort of residential building as hers.
A programme officer in Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Ms Laskar is in her early 30s. She grew up in Hailakandi in Assam and graduated in law from Aligarh Muslim University.
She has been a dweller in this South Delhi neighborhood for a couple of years. Her room feels as complete as a planet. There is a single bed, a writing desk, a laptop, a small mirror, a pair of red curtains, an almirah, an air-cooler, a calendar, and a poster of Venice’s Rialto bridge. “The idea of Venice attracts me,” she says. “I can stay beside the water for ever and ever.”
The Yamuna flows nearby but it is impossible to imagine the river in this maze of buildings, storefronts and dusty lanes.
Ms Laskar’s box of bangles stands next to her toothpaste case. Her handbag hangs down from a hook on the door. The room’s most conspicuous element is the metal bookcase. It is packed with books–many of them are gifts from friends. “Primo Levi’s If This is a Man was given by Uladzimir, my Belarusian colleague at work, and Geroge Orwell’s 1984 by Maja Daruwalla, my boss,” says Ms Laskar. Picking up Ibn-e-Insha’s Urdu ki Akhiri Kitab, she says, “I have read this book so many times… it was gifted to me by Zaigham Murtaza, my dearest friend.” One of the most treasured books in Ms Laskar’s collection is the Hindi biography of former Prime Minister VP Singh (see second-last photo). “He was my most beloved leader,” she says.
Ms Laskar feels she needs a bigger house now. She is planning to move. The world in this room will then come to an end.
Her address in the world