It is almost midnight. He is lying sprawled on the road divider. He seems to be sleeping. His eyes are closed. The headlights of a speeding car fall on his figure, illuminating him momentarily. The car goes away; the man is again plunged into the city’s incomplete darkness.This is a scene on south Delhi’s Aurobindo Marg. The sight of this man on this spot in the city is unique because, after all, each of us has an individual identity. It is a part of basic courtesy to emphasize the exclusiveness of this anonymous person.Having said that, we ought to confess that most of the times the homeless people sleeping on the pavements look the same from a car window. They are noticed only when some car driver loses control and a sleeping body come under the tyres. Early morning on Thursday, four homeless men sleeping on a pavement in north Delhi’s Yamuna Bazaar came under a car being driven by a school student.One of the men died. He had no identity documents with him, so his name is still not known. We don’t know his biography. He might have migrated to the city from a faraway town or village. To his family, if he had a family, he is still alive.
The ever onward nature of the news cycle will ensure that the ‘nameless’ man will soon be buried under other headlines and tweets. The city will forget the sleeping bodies of its pavements until the next out-of-control car.
We, however, often walk the streets of Delhi at night (and day), actively trying to see our city’s invisible people sleeping on the pavements. This photo essay is in memory of the nameless man who was killed by a speeding car near Kashmere Gate.
Asaf Ali Road
Kasturba Gandhi Marg
Jawaharlal Nehru Marg
Bhishm Pitamah Marg
Asaf Ali Marg
Netaji Subhash Marg
(These photographs were taken between September 2016 and April 2017. Delhi government estimates there are nearly 20,000 homeless people in Delhi. Many of them prefer to sleep on the pavements as the free night shelters could be too stuffy.)