Mission Delhi – Monty, Roshan Pura
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
His face is invisible. Even his black mask cannot be seen because of the tall tower of pink cotton candies—each wrapped in a separate plastic—that he is holding in his left arm.
Monty must be a teenager, though it is difficult to guess his age — the mask prevents it, and he won’t tell. He initially laughs to all the queries put to him, while hawking his candies here in Gurgaon’s Roshan Pura in the Greater Delhi Region. It’s only after moving a few meters away, into a quiet and almost uninhabited side-lane where he plans to sneak a quick break, that he starts to talk.
“Once a boy has grown old enough to travel alone on a bus, it is time for him to find work,” he says in a somber tone. A native of Agra in UP, Monty arrived two years ago to start his life as a candy hawker in the Millenium City. He lives with cousins and friends from the same district in a place in Kataria Chowk. “We all make and sell the candy together.”
The eldest among four siblings, Monty has lately become more conscious of “my responsibilities towards my parents.” His father is a hawker of cream rolls in Delhi, where he stays in Kamla Nagar, while his mother lives with the rest of his brothers and sisters in the village. Monty goes to visit his family every other month, “or whenever I want to…. I’m my own boss, I don’t have to ask anybody for chutti.”
Regardless, Monty doesn’t see himself selling cotton candies all his life. “I want to do something else later, but I’m from a background where one doesn’t dream… that is for people with money.”
Monty says he has dropped out of school “because my parents expected me to start earning.” He now excuses himself and walks back to the former spot:
A little later, a little ahead on the same path, three boys of about Monty’s height are seen carrying cotton candies amid the crowd. But their faces are hidden and it’s impossible to say if any of them could be Monty.
[This is the 394th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
A face in the candies