Mission Delhi – Subhash Yadav, Burari
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
His three children are go-getters. Abhiraj, in 11th grade, is focusing to become an engineer. Suraj, in 10th grade, is focusing to become an IAS officer. Rakhi, in 9th grade, is focusing to become a doctor.
Yet, “sometimes it all looks so difficult,” murmurs Subhash Yadav. “But if my children are really prepared to work hard…,” he trails off. Next moment, he keeps his hand on his heart. “See, I have worked hard.”
Subhash started his career in the megapolis two decades ago as an auto rickshaw driver. He initially set his base in Gurgaon for a few years, before moving towards the other extremity of Delhi-NCR, in Burari. By now, he says, he has reached a point in life where “I thrive in the city, and I also thrive in my village.” He explains that he owns a few acres of ancestral land at his home in Jharkhand. That inheritance, along with a pair of cows, help him “ earn not only as an auto walla but also as a kisan.”
All through the year, Subhash commutes between the village and the city. He goes to Jharkhand after every two-three months, either to prepare the land for the next batch of crops, or for the harvest of the standing crop. He doesn’t let his family help him in the farming. “No agriculture for my children.” He pauses. “I never let Parmila (wife) either to work in the fields… she looks after our home.”
In Burari, Subhash shares a single room with two other auto drivers. The village life is far simpler, he agrees, but he is dismissive of that simplicity. He feels it is borne out from a lack of opportunities. Besides, “my monthly earning as an auto driver in Dilli is equal to my two-months earning as a farmer in the village.” Naturally, he foresees his children’s future in the city, not in the village.
Next month, with the start of the rainy season, Subhash will again board the Puroshottam Express, for home, “and I’ll stay in the village for 10-12 days, preparing the land for dhaan (crop).” Suddenly a phone tune interrupts the chat: He takes out the mobile from his pocket. It is one of those handphones that were in wide use before the arrival of smart phones. The caller is his daughter.
[This is the 550th portrait of Mission Delhi project]