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This butcher has a lamb's heart.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Mr Feroze Qureshi, 23, works as a butcher in Nizamuddin Basti, hangs out at PVR Saket, drinks Rum, never misses his namaaz and is presently recovering from a broken heart.
His family is one of the oldest in Nizamuddin Basti which itself happens to be one of the oldest settlements of Delhi. But that wasn't the USP for the girl who fell in love with him around two years ago.
Mr Qureshi was at the 3C’s mall in Lajpat Nagar when Shikha, a student at Dayal Singh College, spotted him with his gang of Basti buddies. His sparkling eyes, muscular arms, bashful smiles won her heart. Bold and bindaas, Shikha approached Mr Qureshi, exchanged phone numbers and the romance started.
Once when her folks were out of town, Shikha invited Mr Qureshi to her house in Lajpat Nagar where they kissed in the darkness of her father's medical clinic. "It was my life's first kiss," says Mr Qureshi.
The puppy love became more regular. They would go to malls, multiplexes and McDonald's. Nothing would come between the lovers. So what if Mr Qureshi was a school-dropout and a Muslim while Shikha was a graduate student and a Hindu. The couple cared a hoot for their different family backgrounds. Shikha was the pampered child of a wealthy doctor. Mr Qureshi was the eldest son of a man who had died of drug overdose.
One day they went to a friend's flat in CR Park and had sex. "We crossed all limits," says Mr Qureshi.
The love went on. Meantime the jobless Mr Quershi got a day job in a butcher's stall and his life streamed into a rhythm. During the day, he would cut goat's meat. In the evening, he would take a shower, slip into jeans-t-shirt, spray a deo and meet his girlfriend.
One freezing evening, during the dying days of 2008, when they met outside Priya cinema, Shikha declared it would be their last meeting. She said she has her parents to think of. "I was shattered," says Mr Qureshi. "I asked her where were her parents when she first eyed me at 3C's."
Mr Quershi cajoled, pleaded, cried. But it was over from Shikha's side. Her 'ex' sank into depression. Mr Qureshi would reach home late in the night: his eyes always red, his steps always faltering, his breathe always stinking of booze.
"Shikha wanted to possess me but I loved her with all my soul," complains Mr Qureshi. "Once she got me, her interest waned."
Mr Qureshi's mother, unaware of her son's private grief, warned that his drunkenness could risk the matrimonial possibilities of his two sisters. That consideration and a mother's strict control gradually steered off Mr Qureshi from the path to abyss.
Of course, Mr Qureshi still drinks and still has Shikha's picture saved on his Chinese mobile but he has again started living. A few days ago he sms-ed a Basti girl. She replied back. They met in the courtyard of Urs Mahal, behind Ghalib's tomb, and kissed. The girl's name is Saara.
Happy Valentine's Day.
The lover boy
Shikha or Saara?