Home Sweet Home – A Home Without a House, North Delhi
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It is morning and he is home alone. “My wife has gone with our son to the public toilet… it will take her an hour to come back… she’ll also be washing the clothes.”
Anil Sharma’s home is a pavement in North Delhi. His entire material possessions include a torn bed sheet spread out on the ground, two steel bowls, a glass tumbler and two bags, one of which is filled with his spare “shirt-pant” and his wife’s spare sari.
The other bag has his son’s toys: two small plastic yellow plates, a pencil box and an empty candy box.
Spreading out the toys on the mat, he observes “my son is lucky to have things to play with…. I had nothing as a child. As soon as I grew up my parents started scolding me to earn money.”
He ran away to Delhi from his village in Bihar as a teenage boy. Later, he reconciled with the parents. In fact, they chose a bride for him five years ago.
The family has no cooking utensils. They dine in an eatery. “During the day I work and my wife looks after the child.”
Mr Sharma will leave for the day as soon as she returns after the morning toilette. In the meantime, he prepares to sit down on the mat by taking off his slippers.
His toenails are painted pink. Chuckling, he says, “I like colouring them… this is my wife’s nail polish.”
He then gazes upon his toes in quiet admiration.