City Faith – Yakuba Begum’s Iftar, Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti
For God’s sake.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
This is her iftar spread — plain channa dal, fresh-cut fruit and samosas. The elderly Yakuba Begum has a thick roti in her lap. She is patiently waiting for the call to prayer. It will signal the end of the day-long roza, or fast.
The Delhi Walla meets Ms Begum one evening during Ramzan in a congested central Delhi bazaar.This is the Islamic season of fasting that commemorates the month when the Quran is believed to have been sent down from heaven and revealed to Prophet Muhammed. Like many Muslims, Ms Begum is observing the roza along with her husband. The couple lives on the pavement.
“We are from Bihar,” says Ms Begum in a very low voice. Gesturing towards the bearded person by her side, she adds, “He is my aadmi (man). He has problem with his eyes. He cannot see clearly… we will go to the doctor after the Eid.” The man smiles apologetically. He is wearing black shoes. Ms Begum is barefoot.
The ground around the couple is littered with leaves. People are walking past them.
“I beg,” says Ms Begum. “We don’t have children… since my husband cannot walk around on his own, I arrange for our food. Everyday we have boiled rice for sehri (the pre-dawn meal in Ramzan). ”
Just then the siren for iftar begins to wail. Ms Begum shows no hurry to touch the food. After confirming that other beggars on the street have indeed started to eat, she picks up a bottle of water and washes her hands. She then passes the bottle to her husband. He too washes his hands. She picks up the dal. Her man picks up the fruit. They eat silently.