Matibool’s family regrets missing the call he made two days ago. They had last seen him two months ago. On Wednesday morning, Matibool’s father saw his son’s photographs on television – hit by a tempo in Delhi and lying unconscious, while cars passed by without bothering to take him to a hospital.
“I wish I had taken my son’s last call. We were not at home. A relative said he had called,” said Matibool’s father, Badruddin,60.
Around two months ago, Matibool had left his village in Uttar Dinajpur district, West Bengal, promising to return with money. Matibool shared a room with his village friend but he never slept there.
The father of four -- two sons and two daughter – worked as an e-rickshaw driver earning around R200-R300 a day. By the night, he worked as a security guard at his employer’s garage, for which he was paid a Rs100 per night.
Most of the residents of the WZ gali of Tihar village, where Matibool lived, are migrants who come to Delhi and work for six months every year. Imran, who lives in the same building said, “Most of us are farmers back home. Our families work in the fields, while we work double shifts here. Whatever money we earn here, we take it home and use it to buy seeds.”
Mohammed Sahil, who lives next door to Matibool’s room, said, “He came to the room to change clothes or take a bath. In the afternoon, if he found time, he came home to sleep for an hour or two. He wanted to earn lot of money and slept on a stool in the garage.”
Matibool’s friends said he had been coming to Delhi twice a year for the past 15 years. He shared a room with his friends- mostly migrants from West Bengal – who work as rickshaw-pullers or e-rickshaw drivers.
On Thursday, Matibool friends contributed to send his body via road to West Bengal. Around R2,000 had not been paid and it delayed the journey by around 10-15 minutes. A man in his mid-30s, who said he was a friend, paid the balance money.
Sahil said that a local politician also helped them. “The ambulance charged R20 per kilometre. We have all contributed what we could. At least the family will get to see his body,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Uttar Dinajpur, while Badruddin waits for his son’s body, he has another worry. Every week, Matibool – his oldest son sent at least a thousand rupees for his family of 10. “What is going to happen to us ?,” he told HT over the phone.