Mission Delhi – Abid Husain, Turkman Gate
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Perhaps he’s not special, this thought does cross his mind. After all, many, many, young men across this big wide world must have faced life’s disappointments. Just as he has. Like him, they too must still be hopeful for their tomorrow. “I will do better in the future,” he says.
Abid Husain is 25, and this afternoon he is selling walnuts on a tatty cart, right beside a police post, close to the centuries-old Turkman Gate that marks the fasil, the outer limits, of Old Delhi. “I had a different occupation some 3-4 years ago,” he mutters, shrugging his shoulders, smiling faintly.
A Kashmir native, Abid was barely out of his teens when he arrived in the capital and became a rickshaw puller. “I had completed my 12th grade studies by then.” His life in Delhi was going on uneventfully until a bike accident during a visit back in the village in Anantnag changed the circumstances. “My legs can no longer put in that kind of physical strain.” He gave up the rickshaw.
In any case, he wasn’t planning to be a rickshaw man forever. Originally Abid wanted to be a doctor. “But dreams break,” he observes, his arms slowly waving in the smoggy air, full of traffic sounds. Abid had to manuevour with “bad conditions” at home—with insufficient resources, with illnesses of family members—-and “I could no longer keep up with my plan of being a doctor.” It was while visiting Delhi with friends that he realised he could make a living here through a rickshaw, and also help the family by his earnings.
These days he spends only a part of his time in the capital. He passes the rest of his days in the village, where he helps with the family-owned farm. “These walnuts are ours.” He explains that they are from the many walnut trees of his orchard. “The ones with the harder shell are for 300 rupees per kg and the softer ones are for 500 rupees.”
A red blush suddenly colouring his face, Abid says: “There is no value of education in the place I come from.” And yet. He is pursuing graduation, and is a second year student in a “degree college” with “arts” as his subject. “I will meet success.”
[This is the 527th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
Abid Husain as rickshaw puller, some years back