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All happy families are alike.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
On the morning of October 2nd, 2008, the day of Eid celebrations in Delhi, Mr Sheikh Sikanadar, a man who looked to be in his early 40s’, was hanging out with his family – three children and a wife – in the festive bylanes of Matia Mahal, the bazaar opposite Jama Masjid.
However, shopping was not on their mind; begging was.
I caught up with the family near the turning to Karim’s restaurant. Mr Sikandar was lying on a low wooden trolley which was being pulled by his daughter who could not be more than ten. His legs, as thin as steel rods, looked wasted. A large steel bowl was balanced on his chest into which passers-by were dropping coins and even currency notes.
“No, I’m not a beggar,” Mr Sikandar laughingly told me when his daughter stopped outside a tea stall. Till two years ago, he was an able-bodied rickshaw-puller but after being run over by an auto, his legs “bekar ho gaye.” No longer having any use of the rickshaw, Mr Sikandar sold it away and used the money to open a paan stall. He still runs it. “See, I’m not a beggar,” he said.
“We live in a jhuggi colony at the other end of the city and come here to seek alms,” said Mr Sikanadar’s wife, who refused to give her name. She had helped her husband in making this trolley. “But we come here only on Eid,” added Mr Sikandar said.
While chatting, I noticed that they all, except the younger son, were barefoot. Why?
“Oh, it doesn’t hurt,” said the amused wife. Mr Sikanadar grinned. Just then his daughter, complaining that why were they being photographed by me, picked up the trolley’s handle and dragged her father towards Kinari bazaar.
Eid Mubarak to readers of The Delhi Walla.
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