The memorable instant.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
He was alone and he was the first to arrive.
One evening The Delhi Walla saw this quiet elderly man at the Italian Cultural Center on Chandragupta Marg. Artist Dayanita Singh was to talk on the book as a museum.
The man spent a long time in the lobby. The walls were decked with framed posters. While Ms Singh was arranging her books and fiddling with her laptop inside the hall, the man patiently stood in front of each frame and spent a long time looking at the illustrations. Finally, he entered the hall. It was empty except for Ms Singh and a few early birds. The man sat on a back row.
The hall soon filled up beyond capacity. Ms Singh’s talk continued for an hour. The receptive audience laughed and clapped at the right places. In the end, Ms Singh was surrounded by her admirers.
The man was no longer seen.
The world outside the Cultural Center was totally different. The road was dark and empty. Though it was only around eight, it felt midnight. A street food vendor stood under a lamppost. He was selling jhaal moori to a handful of customers. One of them looked familiar.
He was that same man.
The man walked towards me and said, “I saw you inside… Myself Nand Kishore Sharma. I’m a retired school teacher from Bihar. Two years ago my son called me to live with him in Delhi… Every day I leave home at Baljit Nagar to attend the intellectual meetings taking place in the city. I return home by ten.”
The man then walked away from the lamplight. It was a magical moment.
The capital intellectual