Mission Delhi – Irudaya Kumar, St Michael’s Church
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The room has two tables. The smaller is placed at the center.
There is barely any other furniture.
This is the meager world of Irudaya Kumar, a catholic priest in Gurgaon in the Greater Delhi Region. In his early 50s, Mr Kumar lives on the top floor of St Michael’s Church, along with helper George Mintu who looks after the kitchen.
“This table isn’t mine, this room isn’t mine,” informs Mr Kumar in his gentle voice. The furniture belongs to the church, and the gentleman himself is without any notable material possessions.
In his early 50s, Mr Kumar has been living in these parts for five years. He grew up in faraway Karnataka; his father worked in a gold mine. “We were deeply religious” and yet his parents initially wanted him to settle down and have a family. “But I felt a calling from within to serve people with love, peace and joy.” Choosing a life of prayer and celibacy, he was ordained as a priest in 2002.
Once Mr Kumar would indulge himself in the poetry of John Donne and Shakespeare but now “my reading revolves around the Bible, and also the daily newspapers.” Some minutes ago he was flipping through a slim book of Weekday Homilies.
The priest’s living quarter is deathly still at this moment in the afternoon. He doesn’t feel lonely, he says. “I have a parish of 600 families, they mostly hail from Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh… how can I feel alone with so many people to take care of?”
Meanwhile the lunch is served in the next room. Mr Kumar settles down alone by the dining table.
[This is the 265th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
The solitary life of Father Kumar