Mission Delhi – Bharati, Central Delhi
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Bharati is 24. She lives in Delhi with husband, Ravi, who is 27, and their son, Bhupen, who is 3. Her other son lives with Bharati’s parents-in-law in their village in Jhansi.
Bharati is a labourer, and so is her husband. “But he earns more than me.” She explains that she is a beldar, who does the basic construction work, while her husband is a mistri. “I earn 300 rupees daily, and he earns 500 rupees.”
This afternoon, Bharati is working on a central Delhi roadside. She is laying the cement on the ground. The sun is as white as moon, but is a thousand times hotter. The temperature is hovering around 42 degrees celsius. Bharati’s son is sitting beside her, busy with a game of his own—the child has to tag along everyday with his parents to their work-site because there’s no one to babysit him. Bharati isn’t sure when she will be able to enrol him in a school. It won’t be in Delhi, she remarks. “We live here for a couple of months at a time, and then we go back to our village to farm our khet (agricultural field), and later we come back again to do laboury (sic).”
In her life as a labourer, Bharati works as much as her husband, but her day’s work continues at home. The couple has taken a room nearby, where in the evening she has to clean the floor, wash the clothes and cook dinner. Every morning, she prepares lunch before leaving for work at 8.30. She always makes “four or five” rotis for her husband, four rotis for herself, and “one or two” rotis for her son. “I also cook some dal or subzi to go with the roti… today I made besan.” She clarifies that this dish is known among city folks as karhi.
Bharati and her husband return to their room at 6 in the evening. Recently, because of the extreme heat, her husband fell ill and couldn’t work for two days, which meant the family lost a thousand rupees. “It’s so hot nowadays that I’m unable to sleep at night,” she says, informing that there is no fan at their place. “And there are many mosquitoes.”
On being queried about her name, Bharati nods energetically and says that “yes, my mummy papa named me after our country, Bharat.”
[This is the 487th portrait of Mission Delhi project]