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Dil se in Delhi 6, via prepaid cards

Last week I met a young man called Abdul Rehman. He lives in Old Delhi. A shop assistant, he shared his secrets with me while whiling away afternoon hours at his work place

india Updated: Nov 20, 2009 19:36 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi

Last week I met a young man called Abdul Rehman. He lives in Old Delhi. A shop assistant, he shared his secrets with me while whiling away afternoon hours at his work place — a beads store in the Walled City’s bustling Turkman Gate bazaar.

Rehman first met Farhana (name changed), 18, early in 2009 at Sheila cinema, one of the few single-screen theatres left in the Capital. “I’d gone to watch Delhi 6, the movie. She was on the next seat,” he says. Before the first song started, he had already exchanged a few words with Farhana. Before the film ended, he had exchanged phone numbers. What followed was predictable: SMSes, phone chats and discrete meetings. “Farhana has chubby cheeks, thin lips, big eyes and a sweet voice,” says Rehman who has light-brown eyes, long nose, wavy hair and a Casanova past. “I’ve had many girlfriends and have done all that you could do with a girl,” he says. “But I have not done anything objectionable with Farhana, my future bride.”

Rehman sounds like a just-married man while talking of his current relationship status. “Farhana is like my wife,” he says. “She rings me up every morning reminding me what time to take a shower, insists I should have breakfast and when to be out for work. At night, she calls me to make sure that I’m safely home.” Each time Rehman complains of a mild headache or catches a viral infection, she gets nervous.

Despite such domestic harmony, the couple meets only once in two weeks. Reason: Old Delhi is conservative and huge. Their homes are far way. He lives in Galli Pahari Rajan in Chitli Qabar; she in Galli Sitara in Hauz Kazi. “But I watch Farhana daily as she passes the store while going to study at a computer institute in Daryaganj,” Rehman says. Then they only swap glances. Why not more? Rehman, whose father is buried at Dilli Gate graveyard, has six brothers and two sisters. “The brother just younger to me knows about my affair and I suspect my Ammi, too, has an idea. But I don’t want to take chances,” he says.

Instead they meet outside the Walled City. At V3S mall in Lakshmi Nagar, a trans-Yamuna neighbourhood, they eat burgers. In Surajkund, a city suburb, they take camel rides. “Sometimes she buys things for me, sometimes I buy stuff for her,” says Rehman. Sometimes they watch films at Sheila or Delite or Golcha. Earning around Rs 5,000 each month, Rehman hopes to double his income in two years. “Only then,” he says, “I would ask Ammi to go to Farhana’s house with the marriage proposal.” Inshallah.