City Moment – Kitchen Couple, Mathura Road
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
On this chilly night Mathura Road has emptied of traffic. But a flame flickers on this Central Delhi pavement—home sweet home for a family of five living under an orange tarpaulin. There’s a sixth member, too—a brown dog.
At this very moment husband Feroze is rolling out rotis, while his wife Sakina is cooking them, one-by-one, on a sooty girdle—as their three hungry children expectantly loiter by.
Feroze, 30, is well aware that the men of the house are not always expected to work in the kitchens of Indian households. “I’m a beldar (daily wage labourer), while Sakina is a kaam-wali (house maid)… we both earn money, so we both work equally at home… we don’t care what people say.”
Tonight they’re preparing aloo bhujiya, but no meat. “We treat ourselves to murga-machhi only on those occasions when I happen to earn a goodly sum,” he explains.
Sakina, 25, remains silent, her shy gaze focused on the fire itself. Feroze, meantime, rolls another roti. “Muhabbat (love) increases this way. We’ve always helped each other.”
Sakina hands over a piping hot roti to one of the kids complaining of acute hunger. Minutes later, the complete dinner is served, plus a roti to the brown dog. While the fire continues to provide warmth to the family, now silently and contentedly concentrating on the meal. It’s a beautiful moment.