Mission Delhi – Soumya Singh, Auto Rickshaw
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Soumya Singh has big black eyes and a sunny smile. She doesn’t seem to be weighed down by life. It could be because she is three months old.
The Delhi Walla met Ms Singh one blazing afternoon in an auto-rickshaw. No, I did not see her in real life. I just saw her picture on the mobile phone of Pooran Singh, an auto-rickshaw driver, from Lakshmi Nagar to Patparganj.
Ms Singh’s father has his phone fixed on his steering handle. The daughter’s image is the phone’s wallpaper. Each time the phone rings, her smiling face flashes on the screen.
Apparently Ms Singh is fast acquiring a personality. “She doesn’t cry,” the auto-rickshaw driver says, adding that she loves being in a crowd.
Ms Singh was born in a Safdarjang Enclave hospital. Her parents hail from Bhind—this Madhya Pradesh district was, until recently, known for its dacoits.
The legendary bandit Phoolan Devi had famously surrendered in Bhind. (This is completely coincidental but Ms Singh’s mother’s name is also Phoolan.)
The auto-rickshaw driver says that while Ms Singh is too young to go around town on her own, she has already toured the Red Fort and India Gate. He wants his daughter to become “something big in life.”
Ms Singh’s home is a slum in Central Delhi’s Badarpur with no access to running water or electricity.
A year or two later, she will discover that not all homes in the city are as meagre as hers.
The odds will be stacked against her but let’s hope she fulfils her father’s dream.
[This is the 133rd portrait of Mission Delhi project]