Mission Delhi – Maha Dev, Gurgaon
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Auto rickshaw driver Maha Dev is lounging on the back seat of his auto rickshaw, where his passengers sit. He is asleep. His legs are resting on top of the driver’s seat. It is early evening, the auto is parked outside a Gurgaon garden. As he opens his eyes, Mr Dev, 32, is showered with a volley of questions.
How long have you been sleeping?
I was waiting for customers. I have been driving since morning. I was tired, so I thought I will lie down on the seat. Aur phir aakh lag gayi (and then the eyes closed). I think I fell asleep just 10 minutes ago. But it felt like I had been sleeping for many, many hours. I’m now feeling fresh.
Did you have any dream?
I did. I’m driving a car somewhere in Noorpur — it is the nearest town to my village in UP. I don’t remember much about the dream. Except that there was dust inside the car, even though all the windows were closed. But some nights ago, I had a dream, and I remember every detail of it. It is strange, because usually I don’t remember the dreams in my sleep.
Please describe it.
It is late in the night. I’m standing at a bus stand. There is no one around. All the shops are closed. The street lights are off. The sky is dark. But I can see the Moon. Suddenly, three-four men appear on the road. Each one is carrying a suitcase. They are wearing very good clothes. You could tell they are rich. They stop at the bus stand. They are looking very happy. One of them starts talking to me, but I can’t hear him. It’s like watching a YouTube video on phone but with no sound. Just as I begin to shake hands with them one by one, they all turn into moorti (statues).
Suddenly, they are no longer like you or me. The colour of their skin turns silvery. I start to shiver in the cold. I cry out, saying “Hello! Hello!” to them. But their bodies are not moving. I touch the face of one of them — it is like touching ice cream. I feel very alone. As if everyone has died in this world. My heart is beating very fast. I’m starting to cry, but tears are not coming out… After some moments, I realised it is a dream. I wait for my heart to stop beating so hard. After that, I went back to sleep again. They say you generally don’t remember the dreams you get. But see, I remember every detail of this one. The only other dream I clearly remember is the one I had in my childhood. It was as terrifying as this one.
[This is the 465th portrait of Mission Delhi project]