Mission Delhi – Hardutt Yadav, Ghaziabad
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
His night shift resumes from tomorrow. Hardutt Yadav is living through his third winter as a guard in a Ghaziabad residential multi-storey. This afternoon, he is in his cabin, improvised out of a ground floor corner niche. The day is sunny but the niche stays forever in shade. A heavy plastic curtain is keeping off the chill.
“I will take out my shawl for the night shift duty,” he remarks, perched on a plastic chair, his hands seeking warmth by the fireside, which is actually an electric heater.
That shawl was a gift. “Papa gave it to me when I was leaving the village for my guard’s job; he told me it would be useful in the cold months.” Hardutt was formerly working as a supervisor of labourers in Calcutta. “To a father, his son is always a child no matter how old the son be… papa bought that shawl from a shop in the village.” Hardutt’s father retired from the army, where he was in the Kumayun Regiment. His wife and two sons live with his parents in Balia, UP. In Ghaziabad, he lives alone, in a rented accommodation nearby. He commutes on a bicycle.
During the freezing nights of December and January, while the multi-storey’s residents are likely to lie snuggled under their blankets and rajais, Hardutt has to remain more vulnerable to the elements. “Sometimes I feel this fact, but this is a necessary requirement of my job and I’m always alert.” At certain points during the deepest portions of the night, his colleagues, stationed at the more elaborate cabin by the apartment’s gateway, calls him for chai. He anyway frequently tears himself away from the heater’s addictive warmth to make rounds in the windy cold.
Rearranging the muffler around his head, Hardutt makes a confession about his father’s gift: “The shawl is halka (light).” He however stays warm, he asserts, “because I have my inners, my guard’s uniform, my jacket and my muffler.”
[This is the 570th portrait of Mission Delhi project]