City Life – Sad News Notices, Around Town
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Spreading the word about a loved one’s death can be a delicate business for their families.
The news is increasingly shared on social media accounts. Other times, an obituary classified is purchased in the newspaper. This morning in Old Delhi, the task is being carried out more traditionally. Phoolchand is sticking a printout on a shop’s shutter in Tiraha Bairam Khan. Handwritten in Hindi, it states: “All are being informed that the shop shall remain closed following the death of Manish Jain’s daadi (grandmother).”
As a shopkeeper assistant, Phoolchand has made additional copies because there’s more than one shop owned by his employer. He confirms that it’s indeed his own handwriting; and as the 62-year-old puts up another poster, a group of men huddle around him, reading it carefully.
This is a common practice among small shopkeepers in Old Delhi, and probably elsewhere as well. “It serves two purposes,” explains Phoolchand calmly. “First, the customers need to know why the shop is closed when it isn’t supposed to. And, of course, everybody in the bazaar gets the news, so that friends and acquaintances can attend the last rites.”
Sometimes these notices are poignant, but businesslike. Last year, a grocery in Galli Sooiwallan street didn’t open at its usual morning hour. Instead, a handwritten paper stuck on the shutter informed about the death of the shopkeeper’s son. It added that “the shop will re-open tomorrow.”
Message on the shutter