Mission Delhi – Kailash, Sector 6, Gurgaon
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Our material possessions aren’t everything, but they are something.
Labourer Kailash agrees to the assessment. He feels their importance, he says, because he has so little. “I don’t even have a wallet,” he says, standing awkwardly in a corner of the small, windowless, dark home of brick walls and tin roof he shares with two other labourers in Gurgaon’s Sector 6 in the Greater Delhi Region. He feels a bit at a loss, he apologizes, because he isn’t used to receiving guests at home.
In his 30s, the father of three arrived in the Millennium City about three years ago from his hometown, Purnea in Bihar, to work as a construction laborer. “I boarded Seemanchal Express with nothing but a hand bag.” He still has that bag, and this afternoon he agrees to show the stuff he keeps in it.
The first exhibit is a mobile phone. He purchased it after reaching the city. It is his life’s first mobile, and he paid 1,500 rupees for it. The phone was important to stay in touch with his family—he realised it only after arriving in Gurgaon.
Then he shows two shirts. They are new and cost 50 rupees each. “I got them from a thela walla (cart seller) in Sadar Bazar some days back.” The shirts were all piled up on the cart. He tried various ones on the spot before deciding on these two.
The bag still has three other things significant to its possessor: a chaadar, a pair of old trousers that he had got stitched for 300 rupees in the village, and one lungi — he actually bought two of those for 55 rupee each, and is wearing one of them right now.
The thing that he guards most protectively, the labourer says, is his ‘pehchaan patra’. Safely tucked inside the knot of his lungi, he takes out his Aadhar card with care. Holding it by the edges, he says, “This is my ID.”
As he begins to fold his shirts, one notices the two tattoos on his arm—an Om and a shivling. Are they part of his possessions too? He smiles, seeming to like the idea. “I got them many years ago.”
[This is the 412th portrait of Mission Delhi project]