Delhiwale: What’s in Afreen’s head?

Meet Afreen whose father collects discarded bottles and mother works as a cleaner; maths is her favourite subject and Firdausi Ma’am is her favourite teacher.

delhi Updated: Aug 15, 2017 14:06 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times
Delhi news,Delhiwale,Afreen
Afreen’s parents have high hopes for their and expect her to grow up to be an engineer. (Mayank Austen Soofi / HT Photo)

We know the question is indelicate (to say the least).

But we can’t resist…. and finally put the question to Afreen:

“Is your head filled with lice?”

The little girl laughs, but her mom takes it more seriously as she carefully examines Afreen’s hair.

We encountered them perched on a wooden push cart near a flyover in central Delhi, together with Afreen’s father who collects discarded bottles for a living. The small family lives on the pavement near a building where Afreen’s mother works as a cleaner.

They have high hopes for their 8-year-old girl and expect her to grow up to be an engineer. Their daughter is now in fifth standard, and maths is her favourite subject.

Six days a week, they wake Afreen at 7am, give her a healthy breakfast of omelette and paratha, and walk her to the school.

She likes all her teachers and particularly Firdausi Ma’am, who never scolds her. “But how will you learn anything if you aren’t scolded?” asks Mom.

At length, she declares that Afreen is lice-free, and the girl jumps down from the cart. She asks if she can go visit the slum across the road to play with Zeenat, her best friend.

Yes, she may! And Afreen sets out to negotiate the busy Zakir Hussain Marg on her own.

First Published: Aug 15, 2017 14:05 IST