City Life – Gardeners’ Dreams, Sector 15, Gurgaon
Family of a couple.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It was decided some years ago: Mangal and his wife, Reena, will continue with their jobs until the career of their children are shaped — at least.
“That is our hope… we don’t want them to stick to our professions.”
The couple are gardeners in a public park in Gurgaon’s Sector 15 in the Greater Delhi Region, and their home is a corner of the garden itself. It’s not that Mangal and Reena don’t like their job, “but we have to work under the sun, in the rain, in the heat, in the cold, amid all the dust.” The hope is that their kids—Srishti, Sanjay and Kapil—go on to study well, so that they can get well-paying white-collar jobs, and hopefully be able to “work inside AC (air-conditioned) buildings and spend the whole day sitting comfortably with computers.”
On this pleasantly cool and sunny afternoon, Mangal is watering a bushy hedge while Reena is working on the other side of the garden. Mangal gestures towards a sari-clad figure in the distance. That’s his wife. Perhaps she is cutting the grass, but it is very difficult to confirm from a distance. Otherwise there hardly seems to be any visitor in the park, apart from a few other gardeners.
A native of Mahoba, in Madhya Pradesh, Mangal and his family have been in the Millennium City since 2008. “Pitaji was a construction labourer,” he says, referring to his father, who spent his working life in towns around his village.
“But life is better in Gurgawa (sic). We are happy for our children.”
Suddenly looking confessional, Mangal starts muttering about his finances. “We are not able to earn much… together we earn 15,000 rupees each month, out of which we are able to save 4,000 to 6,000 rupees only.”
Taking a break, Mangal sits down under a tree. One of his sons appears and shyly sits on his lap. Mangal breaks into a smile. “He is studying from our mobile phone… schools are closed because of coronavirus,” Mangal explains while kissing his son’s head, adding, “The rest is their naseeb (fate).”
A few minutes later, Mangal is back to work while the son goes to sit by his mother. He is busy with the mobile. “He is playing video game,” his mother says, in a mildly scolding tone, before returning to her job with the grass.
Hopes of parents