Mission Delhi – Omkar Gupta, Daryaganj
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Omkar Gupta’s secondhand bookstore opens seven days a week. But this month, the shop stayed shut for three continuous days. This was unusual.
“Mummy passed away,” he murmurs, sitting behind the counter.
Shakuntala Devi died of a stroke. She was 75.
Mr Gupta returned just yesterday from Haridwar after immersing the mother’s ashes in the holy Ganga. “A special ghat is for this purpose near Har ki Pauri… many others were there too, immersing the ashes of their relatives.”
Mr Gupta, 52, feels his mother’s fresh absence deeply “but one has to still run the business… Mummy also would have wanted it.”
Gazing upon the mother’s photograph on his cell phone, he recalls how she would sometimes travels in the bus all the way from home to the shop here in Central Delhi’s daryaganj and just sit all day long. “She would look around… see all these thousands of books… talk to the employees… see my son helping me with the business… she would look very happy.”
Mr Gupta falls into deep thought, trying to remember the last time Shakuntala Devi visited the shop. After confirming with Ashok Agrawal, his assistant, he says that she probably cane here about eight months ago and “soon afterwards Papa fell ill and then she barely left the house… she was too busy looking after him.”
His father had passed away last year.
Mr Gupta confesses that sometimes while talking with customers he forget about the mother for a while. “But soon her memories come back… and I again start to think of her… even now it feels like she will appear any moment… can’t believe she is gone.”
This evening Mr Gupta will leave early for a special poja that will be held at home “for mummy’s moksha.” But his staff will keep the business running.
[This is the 161st portrait of Mission Delhi project]
The portrait of a bookseller as a mother’s son