Mission Delhi – Raibul Nadaf , Sarai Kale Khan
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[By Mayank Austen Soofi]
Late night. The vegetable vendors are gone. The Mother Dairy booth has downed its shutters. The homeless brown dog is sleeping. The cold smoggy air is making the glow from street lamps look vapoury. The lane is empty, except for a rickshaw parked under a tree. Rickshaw puller Raibul Nadaf is sitting on a nearby bench. His hands are full of ₹20, ₹50 and ₹100 notes. “I’m counting how much I earned today,” he says distractedly, faintly smiling.
This is Mr Nadaf’s daily ritual before he returns to his room in Sarai Kale Khan, nearby. His relationship with money is very elemental. It is untouched by an ATM card or a cheque book. In his 50s, the Bihar native has been in Delhi for 30 years, and has survived so far without a bank account. He doesn’t even have a wallet; he uses a small plastic pouch instead.
Once back in the room, Mr Nadaf keeps his money inside a cloth bag. He has no closet, or even a suitcase. “But my money is always safe in the room… the other rickshaw pullers who live with me also store their money the same way.”
A large part of Mr Nadaf’s earnings are exhausted in everyday expenses. He nevertheless manages to save a modest amount every month. It is always a challenge to send the savings to his wife in Saharsa (by now, his four children are settled into their respective households). He is consequently obliged to seek the help of acquaintances, who hold bank accounts, to transfer the money from Delhi to the village.
Only recently did he start toying with the idea of having a bank account. “I’m growing old… kya maloom (who can tell) how long will my ageing body be able to handle the rickshaw…” Consequently, Mr Nadaf feels the need to regularly deposit some part of the cash he earns everyday in a bank, and maintain a pool of money that can be used in a health-related emergency. Some days back, a friendly tailor in Sarai Kale Khan gifted him ₹500, the minimum amount required to create a bank account, the tailor told him. Mr Nadaf realises that having such an account will also enable him to acquire an ATM card. “I see people getting rupees from the machine. I’ll then have to no longer keep my money in the room.”
Mr Nadaf now gets up to leave. “Today I earned ₹300,” he says, carefully sliding the money pouch into his shirt pocket.
[This is the 448th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
His relationship with money