City Life – Moorti Devi’s Prayers, Bhimgarh Kheri, Gurgaon
The family of a woman.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Even in times of distress, when talking about her situation, Moorti Devi makes it a point to present a pleasant disposition to whoever cares enough to listen. These days, she will tell you, no time ever seemed as bad as now.
“This is why I brought my entire family here,” the lady explains to The Delhi Walla. She is sitting on the pavement, her legs crossed and her back straight. The Baba Ram Mohan temple that she is facing is just a hole in a street wall in Bhimgarh Kheri, a cramped neighbourhood in Gurgaon. On this humid afternoon, along with Ms Devi and her family, a handful of devotees are found praying towards the same idol.
“We live in Sector 29,” she says, “and spent a hundred rupees in coming here.”
Ms Devi soon reveals that her household is reeling in a crisis. Her husband, Lakhi Ram, a ‘palledar’ who transfers household furniture from one house to another during home relocations, is facing a steep decline in work. Her daughter, Rani, is of “marriageable age” but thin and weak —“so why would anyone pick her as his bride?” Her son, Inderjit, formerly an auto-rickshaw driver, is sitting idle at home. As for her daughter-in-law, Pinky, she “snaps at me each time I try to talk to her.”
On hearing this, the veiled daughter-in-law stares at Ms Devi, her face showing no expressions.
But not everything is dark, assures the amiable woman. Her life’s great joy comes from her eight-month-old granddaughter, Diwanji.
“A neighbour told me to offer prayers at this temple, so here we are,” she says. “Maybe this bhagwan will listen to our problems.”
Ms Devi presented one dozen bananas to the temple as an offering. “These days one dozen comes for 40 rupees,” she points out. “But these sacrifices might bring some good,” she says.
The family gets up to leave after a few minutes.
While walking away, Ms Devi murmurs as if to herself, “Now another hundred rupees will be spent in going back home… but these are things one has to do while asking favours from the gods.”
The Moorti Devi monologue