Mission Delhi – Shabana Banu, Central Delhi
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
In an instant, her life changed forever.
“My son, my only son, is dead,” says Shabana Banu, who lives on a Central Delhi footpath.
Her son, Arif, was sleeping on the road divider when a speeding car ran over him about a month ago. A part-time dishwasher, the 25-year-old leaves behind his wife and four small children, apart from his mother.
Ms Banu, 55, remembers that “my daughter-in-law woke me up to inform about the haadsa (tragedy) and we together crossed the road… he was lying motionless.”
A native of Hyderabad, Ms Banu was a young widow when she arrived in Delhi years ago, together with her little boy. Her eyes now welling with tears, she recalls Arif’s last afternoon when he said: “Mummy, I’m hungry. Do you think you could get me some food?”
She immediately went to an eatery to buy dal chawal and aloo bhaji, but just as she was transferring the food from the plastic packets to a paper plate a friend of Arif’s arrived and spirited him away. “That was the last I saw of him.”
On that fateful night on the road divider her son fell asleep—she learned later– while watching a film on a friend’s mobile phone.
Ms Banu has yet to visit Arif’s grave. “My heart won’t let me, but one day I shall.”
[This is the 227th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
Notes from a mother’s life