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Delhiwale: Old Delhi, through Ms Muneer’s window

From the window of her home she can see Chitli Qabar Chowk, one of the Walled City’s busiest crossings.

delhi Updated: Jul 17, 2017 11:02 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times
Delhiwale,Old Delhi,Chitli Qabar Chowk
Shaheena Muneer with her cat named Bella. (Mayank Austen Soofi)

Her panoramic third-floor bedroom window gives a bird’s eye view of Chitli Qabar Chowk, one of the Walled City’s busiest crossings. All that she is able to see are endless crowds of pedestrians, bikers and rickshaws. The sounds of cuss words and scooter horns waft up to her room from morning until the midnight hour.

This is Shaheena Muneer’s world. She has spent all her 46 years in Old Delhi. She was born in Kucha Nahar Khan, just a few lanes away. She moved to her present address after getting married at 16. A mother of three grown children, her best friend these days is Bella, a Persian cat. Her younger son had brought it some months ago. All day long, Ms Muneer chats with Bella as if the cat is a fellow human who follows every word. “Of course, Bella understands me perfectly,” she tells us matter-of-factly.

Ms Muneer never lets Bella go down alone. She fears that she might get lost in the labyrinthine alleys. Bella escapes to the bigger world outside only with Ms Muneer, who doesn’t go out very often. Her only regular trip is a monthly shopping foray to Lajpat Nagar. “I’m hoping to go for my first hajj next year to Saudi Arabia but I fear I’ll have to leave you behind,” she tells Bella.

A volleyball player in school, Ms Muneer was married before her Class 10 exams. “I wish my parents had delayed the wedding but I don’t feel bad… my late mother-in-law was like an angel. My late father-in-law was an Urdu poet. I always read his verses in the afternoon.”

Just then the muezzin in the neighbouring mosque calls out. Ms Muneer unrolls her prayer mat beside the window to offer namaz. Bella sits beside her as if she understands that it is a sombre moment.

The noise from the street below is still wafting in through the window but Ms Muneer’s world feels utterly serene.

First Published: Jul 06, 2017 13:08 IST