Home Sweet Home – House of Shadows, Lodhi Road
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It’s hardly more than a lean-to. But the recent addition of an awning means the world for the little family.
“We recently got that awning from a tea stall owner,” explains Irfan. He’s a ragpicker who lives under the new roof with his wife and little son, here on Lodhi Road.
One disadvantage: the shadows of tree leaves thrown on the yellow plastic cover at night by the nearby streetlight frighten their child. “He thinks they are animals, and starts to cry,” says Irfan. “We have to then distract him with toffee or cheeni-chawal.”
Indeed, at this late hour, the plastic surface looks strangely magical as the slight breeze causes the leaves, and hence their shadows, to move slowly along the tilted awning. Irfan’s wife, who is reluctant to give her name, says she usually falls asleep while gazing at these shadows “that looks fainter when you’re lying under the plastic.” Her husband adds that the shadows appear virtually every night but then dissipate. “You don’t see anything at all if the street lamp isn’t working.”
The little family is accustomed to sleeping in the open throughout the year; except during the monsoon when they stay under the awning, anticipating sudden rains. Unfortunately, their roof and walls are not completely waterproof, “and everything gets wet if it rains really hard,” says the wife. They then retreat to a nearby bus stop for temporary shelter from the elements.