Mission Delhi – Kaushalya Devi, Sector 18, Gurgaon
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Kaushalya Devi is 55. A grandmother living in Gurgaon’s Sector 18 in the Greater Delhi Region, she says “My life is now without a care and I pass my days chatting with friends and smoking beedis.”
Ms Devi has two tattoos on her right arm. The back of the palm is tattooed with ‘Om’ while the wrist displays her name hyphenated with that of Ram Kishen, her husband.
The lady got these tattoos “many years ago” in two different stages of her life. She tells the stories of their origin in her own words.
First tattoo: “I grew up in (Delhi’s) Samaypur Badli village. My father was a bus driver in DTC (Delhi Transport Corporation) and I was one of his eight children. I got the Om tattoo when I was 12 in a mela in the village. By then I had stopped going to school and had forgotten everything I had studied, including how to write. My days were all about taking care of our buffalo and to help in the zamindar’s farm fields in exchange of which I would get a couple of sacks of gehu (wheat).”
Second tattoo: “I got it after my wedding. I was 17. My husband was a driver in Maruti car plant in Gurgaon. My life didn’t change much after the marriage. I would take care of my husband’s buffaloes and would cook rotis in the chulha (clay stove). But I also used to stitch sari blouses for the women in our neighbourhood. It was my own idea to earn some extra money. My husband died 20 years ago. I now live with my son and his family. My bahu cooks the rotis for me. I sit and smoke, which helps with my kabz (constipation) problem.”
[This is the 280th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
A woman’s life through her tattoos