Mission Delhi – Ram Iqbal, Pamposh Enclave
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
He is a tailor with a footpath stall in south Delhi’s Pamposh Enclave, working with a foot-operated table sewing machine.
Nothing unique about that.
He sits on a regal-looking broken chair that has clearly seen better days. That isn’t special either.
He chats with his shoeshine friend when idle. Again, nothing extraordinary here.
But one thing about him is very special.
It is his name.
“Yes, people get confused by my name,” says Ram Iqbal. “My first name is Hindu, my second name is Muslim…. some of the new customers who come to me can’t help asking about my religion.”
Well, Ram Iqbal’s religion is… but does it matter? In his 50s, his family, comprising his four children—Sooraj, Pooja, Neetu, Shobha — live “back home in the village” in Bihar. “I was named by my grandfather, who was a farmer.” He has no idea of why nor how his “dada” came up with such a syncretic name.
Ram Iqbal amusedly talks of the confusion his name often raises. “Once I went to a bank to open an account, and the people there kept asking me to repeat my name in case they heard it wrong!”
When asked to reflect on his name’s significance, the tailor pauses for a while to collect his thoughts. “Whether you are Ram or Rahim… see, I’m a Hindu and my name proves the fact that a Hindu can live with a Muslim.”
And yet, he has no Muslim friend, he confesses.
“But,” the tailor insists, “I learned tailoring long ago in Calcutta, and my ustad was Abdul Mullah.”
[This is the 285th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
A matter of faith