City Life – Handwritten Sentiments, Around Town
Or lives in chits and scraps.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
“If we lose this, we lose everything”— and so concludes the romantic note, handwritten by a person to their beloved at the back of a Khan Market restaurant receipt. It was found abandoned in a bookstore there.
Intimate correspondences aren’t exceptional. Everyone nowadays is typing ditties either on WhatsApp, or Instagram, or Facebook, or Twitter. But sentimental thoughts thrown on scraps of paper are rarer — and yet, the metropolis is full of such precious litter, abandoned here and there in public spaces. Their handwritten character makes them tangible records of aspects of our life unfolding outside of the Internet.
Over the years, The Delhi Walla has constituted an archive of such scrawls, picked up from across the city, where they were lying unclaimed. Sometimes these notes are found lost in markets, sometimes piled up at the homes or warehouses of kabadiwallas, and sometimes they are found written on the front page of secondhand books sold in Daryaganj.
Here are a few of the many, all excavated from across Delhi and its surrounding regions. Names have been withheld to protect identities.
“You know that I love you. I’m just concerned that your folks might find out.”
–In a moleskine diary, picked up from the floor of Cafe StayWoke at South Pont Mall, Golf Course Road
“Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling of something which you were born desiring and which beneath the flush of other desires, you are looking for, waiting for? Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say, “Here at last the thing I was made for.” While we are, this is. If we lose this, we lose everything.”
–On the back receipt of Mama Goto restaurant, picked up at Faqir Chand bookstore, Khan Market
“Why has the character of Beloved come back? What purpose? Is there a morality in the novel, implicit in the hardship of the past?”
–On the title page of Tony Morrison’s Beloved, picked up from Daryaganj’s Sunday Book Bazar
“I’m feeling so hurt and depressed. Why am I so vulnerable? Why do I break down so easily? Why am I made this way? O God, I’m feeling very heavy and I want to cry.”
–Scrawled within a pocket-sized notepad, picked up from the grounds of the boys’ hostel in Hindu College
“Everything is full of dust and cobwebs. Mamma, as usual, concentrates intently on her pots and pans and it is impossible to divert her attention. Papa goes about in a moth-eaten pullover and a wholly patched-up dressing gown that even a tramp would discard. I’ll have to start probing into his wardrobe to find out if he hasn’t got anything better to wear. The bathroom window has been eaten up by white ants. It is a painful experience, coming home.”
–Excerpts from a letter picked up from a kabadi walla in Chitli Qabar