City Life - Disappeared Citizens, Around Town

City Life – Disappeared Citizens, Around Town

City Life - Disappeared Citizens, Around Town

Seeing the ‘missing’.

[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]

“ Rafiq, son of Ismail, aged 62, is missing. He was last seen in Saket.”—This flier is spotted on a wall in Jangpura.

‘Missing people’ are found across Delhi. Their posters are plastered on walls, on electric poles, on the trunk of trees, on the back of autorickshaws (see photo). And lately in the shopping corridors of Connaught Place, where computerised screens at phone charging points display faces of the disappeared, the reel running in a loop. (These days, notices are shared on social media as well, where they pass through thousands of attentive eyes in a very short time).

Many of these fliers tend to be in English, many others prefer Hindi. Whatever, different words, same meaning: gayab, disappeared, gumshuda, missing, laapata. In most cases, the black-and-white photo of the disappeared is accompanied with brief details, along with a phone number to contact the family. Some of us passers-by might inwardly shudder on spotting such a flier. It might be our turn next, our loved one gone missing, obliging us to put a similar poster on the city walls.

Here is a glimpse of some such posters. Descriptions have been edited, details have been omitted–to keep the privacy of the disappeared, in the hope that some of them have found their way back home.

“Babu, 30, is from Kanpur. He was on his way to the sufi shrine in Ajmer. He accidentally got separated from his sister near the Jama Masjid in crowded Old Delhi. He doesn’t speak much. His skin color is geuha (wheatish). His face is round. Two of his front teeth are missing. The back-flap of his ear shows a surgery mark.”

“Jahan Singh, 37, is five feet five inches tall. Wheatish skin colour. He left his home in Kalyanpuri at 10 in the morning, and is missing from Mayur Vihar Phase 1. He was dressed in a navy blue T-shirt and black trousers. He has a few-days-old beard.”

“Naved, 16, is saavla (dark). His face is round and he is five feet tall. He has been missing since the afternoon from Gali Choori Wallan in Old Delhi.” (The photo shows him posing gleefully outside Jama Masjid in a check shirt and denim jeans).

“Sanjay Kumar of Badarpur have been missing from his shop in Yusuf Sarai. He is 24, his height is five feet five inches, his face is round. He is wearing a lower and T-shirt.” (The photo shows him gazing intently at the camera, looking rapt, like one of the faces in an old-fashioned studio portrait.)

A large poster is showing a young man’s two different close-ups, both are profoundly expressive portraits. Only a single line underneath, name missing—“He left his home on 18th March and did not return.”