Mission Delhi – Rashidni, Near Golf Course Road
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
From this distance, she is looking like a slow-moving blur. A blur flashy and multi-coloured, for she is in a green-and-blue sari, with a large red sack hanging from her shoulder. Far beyond her, the high-rises on the horizon are looming upwards like formidable stalagmites. The woman appears to be wandering without any aim in this sprawling treeless waste, in this archipelago of garbage islands, wild bushes, and rain puddles, here in Gurgaon, near the posh Golf Course Road.
On coming closer to her, she metamorphoses into her life-like proportions. Rashidni is not wandering aimlessly. She is searching for firewood to use in her kitchen. “Today’s dinner is prepared… I have to make arrangements for tomorrow’s meal.” She murmurs, her eyes darting about in this barren expanse.
A citizen of this so-called Millennium City, Rashidni ventures out every afternoon from her jhuggi to search for wood. She has no cooking gas or stove at her house, she says. “Our life is full of things to do… there is no time to rest.”
A native of Saharsa in Bihar, Rashidni lives with her son and his wife. Advanced in years, she is not certain of her precise age. “My son is a thekedar,” she says, but is unable to tell more about his job. All she knows is that he has been out of work for three months. “My bahu is a labourer, and she is bringing some money to the house.” During the day, the couple leaves home—-one to work, and the other to find work. RashidniI looks after the three grandsons, and later in the day she steps out to search for firewood.
Is her home near the talll buildings?
Rashidni turns towards those perpendicular edifices. She smiles, shaking her head. “I live in Ashoka jhuggi.” She starts to walk, muttering, “I will look for wood, I will spot some, I will pick them up.” She stops by a pile of garbage, puts down her sack on the ground, and scrabbles through the discards with her bare hands. Moments later, she picks up her sack empty-handed.
[This is the 502nd portrait of Mission Delhi project]
Her life in the shadow of high-rises