Mission Delhi – Dheerendra, Central Delhi
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Many business enterprises are hazard-prone. It goes with the territory–and particularly if you’re a rickshaw puller.
Case in point: Early morning on this Central Delhi lane finds rickshaw puller Dheerendra patiently awaiting his first customer despite obvious pain.
“It hurts!” he concedes quietly, pointing to his bound foot.
A few days back he was obliged to climb into the higher branches of a badiya tree to obtain wood for the cold night ahead. “Suddenly, I slipped and fell.”
Dheerendra somehow found his way back to the garage where he lives with other pullers, who advised him to dress the foot with neem leaves. A friend picked the leaves for him while he headed to the chemist for a pack of bandages costing 60 rupees.
In his six years of pulling the rickshaw, this is the very first time he’s gotten seriously hurt. Can he really work in such a state?
“The pain has subsided. I’ll manage,” he says stoically.
Whatever else happens, he doesn’t plan to tell his parents back home in their UP village. “I talk to them on a daily basis, but, you know, what’s the point? They’ll just get needlessly distressed.”
Dheerenda now turns his gaze towards the street, on the lookout for the first customer of the new day.
[This is the 176th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
His bandaged life