Mission Delhi – Anil Kumar, Gurgaon
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Delhi is full of migrant men who leave their villages to make a better life in the big city. Here they live in accommodations, shared with fellow migrants, and work as construction labourers and rickshaw pullers for many years.
But what happens in the end? Are they able to build a new and better life?
At least this seems to be true in the case of Bhola Prasad Das. “My father came to Gurgaon (in the Greater Delhi Region) from our village in Bihar as a boy,” says Anil Kumar, a sales executive who works for a private bank, persuading potential customers to get his bank’s credit card. This afternoon while waiting for a client in a city park, Mr Kumar gives a glimpse into his father’s struggles.
“Papa is a reri walla who hauls vegetable carts in Khandsa Road Subzi Mandi.” He says that initially Mr Das’s family—wife and five kids—stayed back in the village. “But then my mother died… I was just 2 years old… papa brought all of us to Gurgaon.”
The family spent the following years in a one-room house in Manohar Nagar. “Papa worked hard to give all of us good education.” Mr Das’s three daughters now live with their respective husbands. His two sons have salaried jobs that might be challenging in their own ways but at least they don’t demand the strenuous physical labour of a reri walla. “My brother works as a shop assistant in Bansal Stores.”
The young man “thinks” that his father has achieved the dreams that led him to the big city. “Papa is now 62. We brothers often tell him to stop working. We’ll take care of him.”
But the father refuses. “Papa believes if he doesn’t work, his body would start to ache.”
He says his father is an independent man of few possessions and “doesn’t even keep a mobile.”
As a credit card sales executive’s father, does he have a credit card?
The son shakes his head, smiling at the irony.
[This is the 246th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
Dreams of his father