Home Sweet Home – Kamal’s Patch of the Pavement, Asaf Ali Road
Inside the walls.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
At around 12,000 rupees every month, Kamal makes a living collecting scrap.
There’s only one problem. Despite these earnings, Kamal is homeless.
On this Sunday morning he awakens to plentiful sunlight and lots of fine dust, here on the pavement at Asaf Ali Road.
Of course, The Delhi Walla can’t help asking him the obvious.
“Why are you living on the street?”
Kamal shrugs, explaining he is sort of a bachelor, you might say. “They won’t rent out rooms to people like me.”
In fact Kamal has a wife and children back home in Mirzapur, UP. “But in Delhi they view me as a single guy. People are scared having me live too close to their families!”
His bed at least looks comfortable, consisting of four layers with a bedspread printed with peacocks and flowers. “I share the pavement with smackies and beggars, but they leave me alone.”
Although sleeping solo, he’s not lonely. A friend sleeps next to him on the rude pavement. “Baburam is a cobbler, and every night we’re together for dinner in the dhaba.”
A new workday now awaits. Kamal quickly changes into corduroy trousers and military jacket, then carefully folds the bed sheets and durries into a trunk he’ll park at a nearby tea stall.
Tonight he’ll again remake the bed with its four layers: bottom sheet topped with a duree (mat) and two more sheets. But now the corridor is getting busy with the pedestrians and Kamal’s home is fading off with the day.
His pavement nights