Mission Delhi – Munna Bhai, Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
What’s that one thing in the world that’s closest to your heart? “Mummy’s photo,” declares Munna Bhai, a tea stall owner in central Delhi’s Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti.
Showing the picture, Munna Bhai, who is in his mid-40s, says in a mournful tone, “This is the only photo I have of her… there’s nothing else left of her.”
The coloured picture shows Munna Bhai with his arms around an elderly woman in black-rimmed glasses. “We never had any photo of Mummy… two years ago we were at a wedding and on spotting a photographer I asked him to click our picture.”
The photograph was taken just in time — Munna Bhai’s mother passed away a few months later.
“Imagine if we hadn’t gone to that wedding? I would have had no photo of Mummy!”
Haseena Khatoon, raised in the western UP town of Amroha, moved to Delhi after marriage. Her husband died when Munna Bhai was very young. She had four sons. “But Mummy loved me the most,” he says in a serious and gently aggressive tone as if we might dispute the claim. Munna Bhai believes that nobody on earth could made urad dal as good as his late mother.
“Mummy was ill… she passed away in the afternoon… it was a Wednesday… we went to Amroha to bury her,” he says, carefully placing the mother’s picture under a jar of biscuits. “The picture goes wherever I go,” he says, fondly caressing the photograph.
[This is the 250th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
A son’s souvenir