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Delhiwale: The travails of a roadside writer

Rames Kumar says he is a ‘lekhak’ and his novel, somewhat hard to decipher, is in Nepali.

delhi Updated: Jul 10, 2017 15:15 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times

He is writing.

“I’m Rames Kumar,” the young man says. “I’m a lekhak (author).”

Mr Kumar is sitting on the pavement on SP Mukherjee Marg, the road that goes towards Old Delhi railway station from Netaji Subhash Marg.

“I started a new chapter today.”

It is early afternoon. Hurried pedestrians are walking past.

“My novel is in Nepali,” says Mr Kumar. He agrees to read a few lines to us.

It’s a strange passage that consists of what appears to be a single sentence with no punctuation. Here’s a loose translation:

“School one class first two class first name Rames Nepali Bahadur my Nepali book my Maths book my Sociology book my climate my culture my health my Science book my dance my English class Tees Hazari book toffee packet two schools name Rosan class eight Sonam Rames Kumar Company Garden Labour Chowk.”

It’s hard to decipher what it all means.

Mr Kumar’s grey trousers are rolled up to his knees. He is barefoot. “I have more clothes here,” he says, pointing to the red bag on his lap.

“Writing books does not give me money,” he says. “So I work in a hotel in Punjabi Bagh.”

Mr Kumar’s ancestral home is in a mountainous village in Nepal. He arrived in Delhi years ago.

Why did he leave his country? Mr Kumar simply shrugs.

Looking anxious to go back to his writing, he says, “I will wash tomorrow and go back to work in the hotel.” He then starts to write again.