Mission Delhi – Prachi Sharma, Saidulajab
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
This is Tagore. This is Yeats. And this is Vikram Seth—says Prachi Sharma, pointing out cuttings of poems stuck on her closet. She wants to be a writer, and has chosen this tiny fourth floor room in cramped Delhi locality of Saidulajab as the setting to realise the dream. It is the first home of her own. “Pandemic or not, this house is a beginning for me,” she says. “It feels like a return to normalcy.”
Ms Sharma, 21, moved here a month ago from her parents’ house in nearby Faridabad in Haryana. “Though they wanted me to stay with them.”
But staying in Faridabad was never in her original plan. The pandemic had forced her to do so. Last year, she spent the successive lockdowns alone in her PG (paying guest) accommodation in north Delhi’s Roop Nagar — she was then a literature student in Delhi University’s Kirori Mal College. Ms Sharma’s only roommate had left for her parents’ just before the lockdown started, and so had the other 40 students living in the building. She had stayed back “because I liked being alone in a quiet unmoving time.” Eventually she was obliged to give it up in June “when my contract to stay ended, and because nothing else had fallen into place. I had to return to Faridabad.”
Some months after getting a job as a content writer in a Gurugram firm, Ms Sharma decided to “take the leap” and move to Saidulajab.
“The locality is good… full of young people still in college or with their first jobs… they look like people who live my kind of life.”
The great part of her optimism comes from her apartment. “No matter where I am during the day, the thought that I will be returning to this place is comforting.”
At night, the young woman sees the moon through her curtain-less window. In the morning, “the sunlight wakes me up.” There’s no bed but a mattress on the floor.
“I like listening to my thoughts in this room,” she says, turning on a Jagjit Singh song on her mobile phone. It’s lying atop a bed table, along with a Murakami novel, a pair of jhumka and a facemask with a Madhubani design—the only thing in the room hinting that we are still in the midst of a pandemic. Does she feel its oppression?
She says—“In my room, I do not feel the pandemic. Because only one breath, and only one touch live here – mine.”
[This is the 396th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
Her new start