Mission Delhi – Ashiq Jama, Lodhi Gardens
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It seemed like a logical question. As a professional gardener, Ashiq Jama must have lots of flowers in his own home. Or?
Mr Jama laughs. “No. Haven’t got a single pot or plant.”
During his lunch break here in Delhi’s Lodhi Gardens where he works, Mr Jama explains why.
He and his wife have just a single room in a slum in South Delhi’s RK Puram. “No spare space for flowers or plants.” He’s never even gifted a rose to her during their entire married life of two decades, and in any case “I never have rifts with my missus.”
Whatever else, Mr Jama is not indifferent to the beauty of petunias and marigolds in his beloved park. He speaks of frustration when park visitors casually pick flowers that he’s tended with considerable devotion.
But of course the 53-year-old gardener does sometimes deal with flowers outside the boundaries of his day-job. When visiting Sufi shrines “I buy small garlands of roses to offer at the graves of our saints.”
The last time he used flowers for purely personal purposes was very long ago: During his wedding about 20 years back when he wore a groom’s veil made from flowers what he calls yellow carillas.
Mr Jama now walks towards a nearby carilla tree and poses with those yellow flowers he wore all those years ago. The sight is moving.
[This is the 247th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
Flowers in his life