Mission Delhi - Imran, Central Delhi

Mission Delhi – Imran, Central Delhi

Mission Delhi - Imran, Central Delhi

One of the one percent in 13 million.

[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Four rotis and masoor dal—that is Imran’s lunch this afternoon. He cooked it in the morning. He always does. Tasked for the loading and unloading of goods in a central Delhi commercial establishment, he settled down to his self-made meal some minutes ago in a corner of the workplace. Surrounded by cardboard cartons, this tiny vacant portion of the floor is his metaphoric table for one.

“When you have been alone in a big city for a long time, you learn to make your own khana,” he says. Imran lives with colleagues in a rented apartment in Lakshmi Nagar, “but each one of us cook separately.”

In his 20s, the young man believes himself to be “very old.” Perhaps because his working life have already been much longer than many men of his age. His father, a village farmer, died when he was seven. Their agricultural land being too minuscule (“just one beegha”), Imran was obliged to move out from his UP homeland in zila Auraiya. He found work in Delhi at the age of nine. “My first job was in silai (sewing)…. I grab any kind of work, wherever it is available— in laboury, in helpery, in maal utaro, maal lagao…”

With mother and wife in the village, and a younger brother looking after the family’s “ek beegha zameen,” Imran’s enduring agenda is “to keep earning steadily for my people.” Another brother too works in Delhi; his earnings also help run the village household.

“Yesterday I had cooked aloo bhujiya for lunch… I sliced the aloo into long thin pieces, I make it well.”

Packing off his lunch box, Imran remarks that “I always have paape with chai for my morning nashta.” On his dinner plan for today, he thinks he might rustle out dal and rice. “Rice is easy to make, you just have to put it on boil… roti demands laboury, you have to strain the atta in a channi, mix the atta with water, knead the dough…. in case if I happen to be feeling very tired on reaching home, then I’ll simply boil rice and (temper it) with baghaar.” He gets up to resume work.

[This is the 573rd portrait of Mission Delhi project]