Abdul Gafur, a 55-year-old coolie at Delhi’s Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station, is a pious Muslim. During the holy month of Ramzan, he fasts every day even while carrying heavy luggage, climbing up stairs and treading across platforms under a scorching sun.
He has a meal before sunrise and comes to work from his nearby rented accommodation, where he shares a room with five other coolies, at 5.30 am. He migrated to the city from Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan around 20 years ago to work as a porter at the station.
On every evening during Ramzan, at around sunset, the small mosque is filled with about 100 coolies and taxi drivers who, after a hard day’s labour on an empty stomach, break their fast and pray. The muezzin, who calls the faithful for prayer, too is a coolie.