Mission Delhi – Muhammed Anas, Pahari Rajaan
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
He is 23. He has a dream. “I want to live in a house that has more than one room,” says Muhammed Anas. A bangle seller, he has spent all his years, so far, in a single-room house in Old Delhi’s Pahari Rajaan. This slow afternoon, while waiting for customers at his shop near Khajoor Wali Masjid (the khajoor tree vanished long ago), Mr Anas tells of his present house, as well as about the dream home in which he wishes to spend the rest of his life.
On his present house:
“It’s not really a room but a large hall on the ground floor, with a kitchen and a bathroom. We live across the lane from a meat shop. My late father bought the house some 30 years ago. Six of us are living in it—my mother, my sister, and we four brothers. The house has two beds, one small dining table, a fridge, a LED TV, and a window AC. In case of a power failure, there is ghup andhera (pitch darkness) inside even at midday—because there is no window! I feel no air, no oxygen in our home. I’m lucky to be able to spend the entire day in the shop. Sometimes, while at home, I pass the time looking at the walls, which are covered with photos of our family trips to various dargahs in Delhi and in other cities. Once we went to Haji Ali’s shrine in Mumbai. We also have many pictures of our trip to Kashmir.”
On his “khwabgah,” his dream home:
“It has to be within our Old Delhi, because we are proper Purani Dilli wale and will never leave this area. I’ll prefer Daryaganj’s Lal Wali Gali, which is a very spacious street. There one easily sees the sky, unlike in Pahari Rajaan where I live. Ours will be a top floor flat and will have five rooms, one for each brother, and one for our mother (our sister will hopefully be married by then). Every room will be fitted with a window. Despite living in a bigger house, we will remain a closely knit family. All things will stay the same, except for the fact that at night we will not sleep in the same room.”
Mr Anas now falls silent. He will shut the shop at 9pm after which he will walk back home. Post-dinner, he will hang out with friends along the neighbourhood’s crowded alleys. (That’s his daily routine.) He will return by midnight.
[This is the 441st portrait of Mission Delhi project]
A room of his own