Mission Delhi – Muhammed Zikriya, Chitli Qabar
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
There’s no denying it. Muhammed Zikriya does miss having his own family. But at age 84 is happily reconciled to the good life he created.
This Old Delhi dweller with a flowing white beard spends his days with considerable industry, threading white chameli flowers into small garlands at a streetside flower shop in Chitli Qabar. And reckons his family in many ways consists of friendly passersby who daily chit-chat with him.
Otherwise there’s Shehenshah, the grocer, and Zahir Bhai, the button seller, for some good conversation. And just maybe a few daily words with Aamir the mechanic, as well. Then of course there is the cheeky Saadiq, his young colleague in the flower shop who takes pride in speaking sentences in fluent English. Together they are capable of making some jolly but unprintable jokes. At night, Mr Zikriya lives with his brothers, “where I find affection from their children and grandchildren.”
In fact Mr Zikriya was briefly married some 50 years ago, but they parted after one month. For many years he considered himself a typical Walled City adventurer, rearing goats and keeping pigeons until they got too expensive, “as much as one lakh!” Otherwise, the gentleman follows street life closely, rather like someone watching TV soap operas in his drawing room. Tonight as he prepares to head home, this old-timer confesses to only one ambition. “I want to quit this world while my body’s still able to function independently… don’t want to be a mohtaj (dependent, at someone’s mercy).”
[This is the 189th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
His only ambition