We found Sadho Ram on Facebook. His ongoing diary of people he meets in Delhi moved us, so we inboxed him and he sent back this essay. He is also a migrant worker and takes photo to remember his encounters RAIOT COLLECTIVE
DILLI KE LOG
Delhi, as I see it day in, day out, is a city flooded with people from across the country who have come here — for survival, if not a better life — leaving behind the comfort of their home, families, and history. Most of these people are from the Hindi heartland, with UP being the state with the largest share of migrants coming to Delhi — about 47%, according to Delhi’s Human Development Report 2013.
Meet Shakir, a native of Lucknow, UP. He has been living in Delhi since past 16 years.
When I asked him, how long he has been working as an auto-rickshaw driver, he said 6. The auto-rickshaw which he drives is not his own, so he has to pay Rs.450 per day rent, which doesn’t include other expenses like fuel, etc. At the end of the day, he saves about 200-300 rupees, and there are also days when he doesn’t even make enough to pay his rental. He lives here with his wife, kids and a younger brother.
This is Rahul. He is 18 years old and sits at his father’s tea stall. A native of a village in Munger, Bhagalpur, Rahul says he has been in Delhi for as long as he can remember.
I took this photo of him back in April. Back then he was reading a book about competitive exams. I asked him how far he has studied, he said he just returned after appearing in his 12th standard exams and if results are good, he wishes to study further. He says he wants to move ahead in life.
“There is no life from where I come. People kill each other over matters as trivial as taking extra water from other people’s well. I really hope it all changes, but hope itself is not enough to bring change. I can’t do much, so I’m helping my father with this tea stall for as long as I can.”
The tea stall has been here in Gautam Nagar, South Delhi, since over a decade now. It did good business for a long time, but the condition has been deteriorating since the nearby commercial properties were forced to shut down.
I saw Rahul again a couple of days back. His father has called him back to Delhi as he had enrolled himself in a B.A course and wanted to prepare of Banking sector job. His father says he should instead learn something technical through which he can ensure two times of bread.
I often visit the Nizamuddin Dargah, mostly to listen to Qawwali on Thursday night. During one such visit, I met with Nizam there. He holds this huge hand fan made out of cloth, which he uses to soothe people sweating there. In return, they give him a few rupees. While speaking to me, Nizam said he is originally from Bombay, but has been living here in the Dargah for last 12 years.
This here is Vijendra Singh ‘Fauji’. He is originally from Haryana.
“I’ve served in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971,” he told me with pride, adding: “Back then I took a bullet for my country. Now I serve the people of Delhi through this autorickshaw.”
And then there are others who I see but end up without a conversation.