City Life – Labourers’ Load, Central Delhi
Big city dreams.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It’s another cold morning in a city bazar, where a thousand bricks stacked in a by-lane somehow need to be hauled to a construction site nearby.
A crew of young labourers stand by as one of them builds a “twin tower” out of 24 red bricks. He then ties them with a frail jute rope and lifts the load onto his back.
The sight is astonishing. His back is curved into a C-shape as he hobbles to the site where a new building is under construction.
Now another guy builds a similar tower and staggers off, prompting the obvious question: “Doesn’t it hurt?”
“No, we’re used to it,” says a worker, looking bemused. “We do this every day, maybe 7-8 times.”
There’s no back pain at all, he insists. “Nor do we need massage oil at night. We just get too tired and simply fall asleep.”
They’ve got all these bricks to transport within an hour or so, with each labourer paid 200 rupees per haul, or about the price of a cinema ticket.
Barely in their 20s, the men hail from the same village in Mirzapur near Varanasi — and don’t regret moving to the big city. “It has greatly helped us and our families. Our situation has improved,” declares another man as he psychologically readies himself for the next load.
Bricks in the wall