Mission Delhi – Govind, Sector 6, Gurgaon
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The afternoon air is warm despite hints of the approaching winter. He is sweating profusely as he sits on the stone plinth under the shade of a leafy tree here in Gurugram’s Sector 6.
Govind is a labourer. His wife is also a labourer. “We both are working in different sites today,” he says, explaining, “Hers is in a different sector.”
The couple usually gets assignments together but this time their contractor assigned them to separate “gangs”.
It is lunch break and Govind will eat alone — he won’t be able to join his wife. “Most days we eat saath-saath (together).”
The steel lunchbox box is stuffed with many rotis and “hari tarkari,” or green vegetables. “There are days when we have rotis with just chutney… one feels too lazy in the morning to cook a proper lunch… and then sometimes we get up too late.”
Govind politely refuses to disclose his wife’s name but reveals that they married recently in their home state of Madhya Pradesh “with the blessings of our parents.”
Since both the husband and the wife contribute to the household income, they also divide the household work equally among themselves, says Govind. “On reaching home in the evening, she cleans the room and I fill up the paani-ki-tanki with eight buckets of water.”
Scooping the subzi with the cold, dry roti, Govind informs that “this morning she made the rotis and I made the tarkari.”
The labourer concedes that domestic protocols tend to be more conservative in his village. “Men work in the field and women work at home… this has been a tradition established by our forefathers.” He pauses as if recalling some past incident, but then resumes eating without uttering any word, though one can hear him make lip-smacking sounds as he finishes one roti after another with apparent satisfaction.
Suddenly speaking up, Govind observes: “In the village, a woman often have to work outside her home too, especially during the harvest season… but even then they have to do all household work entirely by themselves.”
The lunch is over. There are still some minutes left for the lunch break to end. Govind carefully closes the lid of the lunchbox. He lies down on the cool cement plinth, rests his head on the box as if it were a pillow, and closes his eyes.
[This is the 172nd portrait of Mission Delhi project]