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Delhiwale: A man with the tattoo riddles

Kanhaiya‘s arm is filled with incomprehensible tattoos just as his heart is filled with inscrutable pain.

delhi Updated: Dec 14, 2017 12:48 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times
Delhiwale,Dilliwale,Tattoo
We met this strange man one morning while walking around central Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan. Lying beside a fence, the man was probably in his thirties.(Mayank Austen Soofi / HT Photo)

His arms are covered with tattoos. The right hand looks like a mathematician’s notepad in which incomprehensible codes, equations and theories have been scribbled. We peer closer and see names of people, the likeness of a crab, and even something that appears to be a DL car registration number.

We met this strange man one morning while walking around central Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan. Lying beside a fence, the man was probably in his thirties. A waste picker, his name is Kanhaiya and he collects empty bottles.

Kanhaiya says life is not treating him kindly. He raises his arm at us. The finger nails are dark green. His lined shirt is blackened with dust.

His trousers are torn in several places. His white canvass shoes have turned to a muddy brown. His head is resting on a half-filled plastic sack. We ask him about his tattoos.

Instead, he says: “My woman doesn’t like my hands... my children are scared of me. They don’t understand me. I feel frustrated. So I usually stay away from them.”

Dreamily rolling up his shirt’s sleeves, he says, “I will buy new clothes next year… My woman works in a kothi (bungalow) and she was willing to buy me shirt-pant but I told her not to. We don’t have much money, and my brothers often help me to run the house.”

He says he makes about Rs 2,000 monthly. A shopkeeper behind the Delite Cinema daily buys all his bottles… He lives far away in Saket.

“It has been over a week since I was at home.” A dog appears from beside a lane and starts to bark at Kanhaiya. He shifts his gaze towards the sky and continues to stare upwards. The dog leaves after a few minutes.

Kanhaiya then starts to count something on his fingers. He seems puzzled. Soon afterwards, folding an arm under his head, he turns towards us, saying, “Today I will look for bottles outside the Red Fort. But my shoulders are hurting. I think I will rest for a few more minutes.”

First Published: Dec 14, 2017 12:48 IST