Mission Delhi – Rekha, Gurgaon Railway Station
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Rekha and Ghukkar are a long-time couple. Both are labourers in the Millennium City of Gurgaon in the Delhi region. “Today is our off,” says Rekha. It is afternoon and she is playing “car-car” with her grandchildren. The couple’s son and daughter-in-law are away at work—they’re also labourers. The yellow plastic car has a broken doll—just one leg actually—on the driver’s seat.
Her family, Rekha informs casually, lives on the pavement though right now they are in the city’s railway station.
Ghukkar is sleeping, his head resting on an empty metal can. “This is how we are,” says the woman, amusedly shrugging her shoulders. “We don’t have money to waste on a pillow …. we don’t even have a chaadar (bed-sheet)!”
She points out that she picked up the toy car from a pile of junk.
The couple is from Udaipur in Rajasthan. “No work there,” says Rekha flatly, while pushing the car towards her grandchildren who are gleefully pushing it back. “At home I earn 200 rupees daily in the mazdoori, here I make 300 for that same work, sometimes even 400!” She falls silent, concentrating on the car. Husband Ghukkar opens his eyes some minutes later, but doesn’t stir.
“He wants chai now,” Rekha whispers, rolling her eyes, as if outing her husband’s carefully preserved secret.
Later at night, Rekha and her daughter-in-law will cook dinner “on a fire right here on the roadside.”
The next day, both and she and Ghukkar will accompany their son and “bahu” (daughterin-law) to work. “Along with the grandchildren,” she adds concernedly, adding that the little ones spend their day playing at the construction site and “get covered with dust.” Meanwhile, the woman keeps the car moving. “It’s going to Dilli,” one of her grandkids somberly informs.
[This is the 229th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
The family of a woman