Delhiwale: A bejeweled woman’s solitary life
Private Capital: Suhana sleeps on this stretch of the pavement but her home is the entire Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti, the adjacent village famous for the shrine of a Sufi saint.delhi Updated: Jul 10, 2017 15:15 IST
It is a dark night and we are face-to-face with a white-haired woman on the pavement at Lodhi Road.
Ms Suhana, who uses only one name, is sitting on a mattress — her mattress — and quietly watching buses, cars and auto rickshaws going down the smoggy avenue. She is wearing a golden-yellow sari. Her arms are covered with golden, silver and green bangles. Her fingers, nose, ears and neck, too, are decked with similar jewellery.
Behind her sits the rusting skeleton of an old car.
Ms Suhana waves her arm and her bangles immediately jingle. “I got them from a shop… Bought them for almost nothing,” she says nonchalantly.
Ms Suhana sleeps on this stretch of the pavement but her home is the entire Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti, the adjacent village famous for the shrine of a Sufi saint.
“I’m lawaris (alone and abandoned)… I have no one… I’m under the protection of Nizamuddin Baba… I have spent the last 20 years in his shrine.” Ms Suhana has nothing to say about her family and her past. “My father… My mother… their stories are over… they are no more… they are dead… my childhood days were spent with my saheliyan (women friends).”
Revealing only a glimpse of her early life, the woman says that before arriving in Delhi, she used to live in a Sufi shrine in Jabalpur. “I was at Dada Mian’s Dargah in Kasai Mandi.”
Despite being without a house of her own, Ms Suhana manages to survive without having to worry about her next meal. “The owners of the shops here are like my brothers. They give me food. I’m never allowed to go hungry.”
Running her fingers along the golden necklace, the bejewelled woman mutters a string of sentences in such a low voice as if she was having an intimate chat with the air: “These days everybody seems to want a husband or a lover or a friend. You get friends only if you have money… when your heart aches, you have to comfort it yourself.”