Mission Delhi – Muhammed Faiz, Dilli Gate
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It is a time of endings. It is a time of beginnings. These are the twin worlds that Muhammed Faiz, 21, is straddling at this delicate stage in his life. He is in despair because he has to discontinue his graduation. Yet, he is hopeful because he just started his career as an auto-rickshaw driver.
The disruptions caused by the pandemic is shaping his coming-of-age. “We had to shut down our family-run shop because of the lockdowns,” he says, while picking up a passenger at Dilli Gate one cold evening. A native of Old Delhi’s Gali Badliyan street, his family had a “kids’ wear” showroom in nearby Chitli Qabar Bazar, “but people aren’t buying as much as they used to before corona… we were unable to afford the rent for the shop.”
Now, his father stays at home and his elder brother runs a modest stall on the “patri” (pavement). Mr Faiz was a first-year graduation student in Zakir Husain Delhi College, but felt obliged to give up his studies “because we are facing problems and I felt I must help at home”.
The decision to take up the auto-rickshaw was his own. He received the family’s full support as he purchased a spanking new auto for six lakh rupees “on instalment”.
Armed with the experience of one month into the new profession, Mr Faiz is looking forward to his years as a driver “because auto rarely goes out of business, public always have to travel from one point to another”.
The young man is trying to stay optimistic even as he feels the weight of a most crushing disappointment. “My engagement broke up recently.” His fiancee’s parents had their reasons. They told his family that they had fixed their daughter’s marriage to a boy who had a showroom, not an auto. “I’m no longer good enough for them,” says Mr Faiz.
The auto driver, nevertheless, confesses of being motivated by another mission. “My sister is doing her graduation in the university… I want to earn enough to help her realise her ambitions — that is now my biggest dream.”
[This is the 462nd portrait of Mission Delhi project]
To new lanes