Mission Delhi – Dev Kumar, Near Malai Mandir
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
One hot and humid evening The Delhi Walla bumps into him near Malai Mandir, in South Delhi. He is lying sprawled on the grass. His long hair and long beard are looking unkempt. He seems to be utterly alone.
I sit down beside him and try to break the ice by complaining about the weather. He turns his face away. Looking up at the sky, he says, “What a world! Nobody exchanged even a single word with me when it was raining heavily last week, and I was so completely drenched…”
The man sits up and pulls out a tuft of grass. Staring ahead at the evening rush hour on Rao Tula Singh Marg, he says he arrived in Delhi a few months ago from his village and has been sleeping on the footpath since. I ask him why he had to leave his home and come to this big city where he doesn’t know a single soul. Closing his eyes, he asks me, ‘Have you read Mahabharata? That’s the story of my life and my family.”
The man is perhaps referring to the familial conflicts depicted in the epic.
The sky further darkens. The man absent-mindedly talks of picking up used water bottles from the garbage bins the next morning. “I will sell it to buy food… tonight I may get rotis from the mandir.”
Going back to lying on the grass, he says, “Nobody talks to me here… you will also go away… will you remember me?”
I ask for his name.
“My name is Dev Kumar. Will you remember it?”
[This is the 138th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
Single in the city