Mission Delhi – Georgina Lazer, Holy Trinity Church
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
In blue sari and white hair, she at 90 is like a lesser-known but still a notable Walled City monument. This February afternoon, snuggled in a sun-soaked corner of the Holy Trinity Church, beside Turkman Gate, Georgina Lazer is presiding over her world like an easy-going matriarch.
The friendly lady’s biography might not be directly linked to any significant episode of contemporary Delhi, but her great fortune of seeing herself through so many years in one of the most historic parts of our capital makes her special. “I was born in Gali Bandook Wali,” she says. “Since then, my life is revolving around two churches.” The first is the “Fatehpuri church” of her youthful days, and “after my marriage in 1952, I moved from that part of Old Delhi to this part, to this church.” She waves her arm towards the dome of the Holy Trinity, circa 1805. The compound here houses a small community of Christians, including a school. Its paved yard is forever dense with neighbourhood life: children play hopscotch and football, grown-ups huddle in groups. Right now a young boy is cycling around the elderly woman.
Recalling her childhood, Georgina Lazer talks of her school holidays spent at naani’s house; the grandmother lived on the same street as hers. Her father Dulichand operated a “leather work” stall right outside their house. Her mother, Birjo, was always dressed in a gown called “saya.”
The consequence of a long life has naturally obliged her to bear the passing of many loved ones—parents, brother, husband. “They all are buried in the Paharganj cemetery,” she says. The losses being deeply painful, she nonetheless feels grateful for being alive, for living so close to her beloved church, for being the mother of four women and two men, and also for this soothing sunshine. “I love showing the church to visitors… I tell them its details.”
She confesses she might be slightly above, or slightly under, 90. “One day I will go to my school near the Fatehpuri church to check my old papers, it will have my year of birth.” She turns her face to the winter sun, smiling.
[This is the 531st portrait of Mission Delhi project]
The churchyard matriarch