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Gurugramwale: Refuge in the ring

A migrant fruit-seller’s attempt to deal with homesickness

gurgaon Updated: Mar 29, 2019 12:01 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times, Gurugram
Shakeel is a fruit-seller in Gurugram .(HT Photo)

Shakeel is a man of style. This afternoon the young man is dressed in distressed denim pant, with a red scarf tied around his forehead, a golden baali twinkling on his left ear, and a plastic green chili as his locket. He could be any fashion-conscious college student.

Shakeel bursts into a laugh.

“I have never been to school!”

He is a fruit-seller and this afternoon his cart is loaded with apples from Shopian, Kashmir.

And while it’s true that Shakeel is 22, he is already “settled in life’ with a wife and four children.

Even so, he is not completely content “because it’s terrible to live apart from family.” In addition, the sensitive man is guarded about making friends in a big city such as Gurugram “where everyone is looking for a chance to eat you alive.”

Sometimes he plays cards with acquaintances “but then I start feeling guilty as to what example I would set for my young children.” While Shakeel does visit his family once every two months, “it is just not enough.”

Making a living back home is not a viable option either.

So, the homesick gentleman is left with only one solace.

Showing a red stone ring on his finger, he recalls the day when he was leaving for Gurugram the first time about three years ago. “My gharwali (wife) went to a shop in the village, got this ring, and gifted it to me saying that I must gaze at it each time I miss her.”

So that’s what Shakeel is doing now.

This is what he also often does when he returns to his empty room at Sohna Chowk in the evening. “This angoothi is not a real diamond but it is very precious,” he says, caressing it affectionately, a slight smile playing on his lips. The intense longing for home might not have dimmed for this apple-seller but it does seem to have found a consolation, even if fleeting, in his ring.

First Published: Mar 29, 2019 12:01 IST