City Life – Family Closet, Sadar Bazar
A souvenir of memories.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Loved ones go, the objects of their daily life stay. And some trace of the departed, tidbit of a particular memory perhaps, is evoked by those objects. Like in this small rusty almirah. Its surface is discoloured in patches. Parts of it are scrawled with chalk. There are scratches, too. In ordinary circumstances, it would simply be thrown out of the house.
But not in Suresh Bohat’s home, here in Gurgaon’s Sadar Bazar. “My wife looked after it everyday with love and respect,” he says, referring to Santa Devi who died on 22 February, aged 52. “This almirah is her nishani” he says (The Delhi Walla snapped these photos showing them two with the almirah in an earlier time). Suresh Bohat is a welder, but he was also a “safari karamchari” in a primary school and retired last month just ten days ago. Talking reverently, he adds that the almirah for him today has grown to a symbol of many people “who are close to me and who have left this world.”
The metal closet is kept outside the main doorway of the house and is stacked with Mr Bohat’s welding equipments. “This almirah was bought many many years ago by my father.” Shri Mangey Ramji was a “safai karamchari” in a government department. “I don’t remember when he bought it. I was too small.” The father died more than 20 years ago.
For many years, the almirah was used as a wardrobe by his mother, Moorti Devi. “In those times we didn’t have much clothes… each member in the family owned just a single set or two… Maa used to keep all the household clothes in this little almirah.”
The mother is no more.
It was about a decade ago that the family bought a new almirah “with a modern design” and it was decided to do away with the old one. “Of course there was no question of getting rid of it,” his late wife Santa Devi had declared to the family. She had reasoned that the almirah was a nishani of the hardworking life led by her husband’s parents “and as long as we are alive this almirah shall remain a part of our world.”
Today, using it as a storage for his tools, Mr Bohat says, “Loved ones go but they leave behind their reminders.”
Container of feelings