An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Voices from Childhood Delhi

Here is a very interesting and touching post from Shekhar Kapur – the renowned Movie Director of Elizabeth and many Bollywood movies – about the bond that the fruit-seller and his old (now deceased) Mom had formed through the endless sessions of bargaining – as can only happen in Delhi!!

When my mother passd away, rather suddenly, I had been away from our family house for many many years. I went back and an went through all the rites, and stood by my greiving family, determined now to take charge and be a comfort to all, except myself. I was after all the son, and expected to be stoic.

Two days later their was a call of the fruit seller, and I walked out of the house. There was an old man with a whole basket of fruit, and he asked for my mother. I remember him being thin and with a great white moustache and sunburnt wrinkled skin. I told her she had died, and he sat under the tree. Sad and contemplative..

"She was a great lady" He said "and who are you ?"

"I am her Son" I said.

He beckoned me towards him. Put his hand on my shoulder, and told me so much about me. About all my mother’s dreams for me, of how much she had missed me.

And for the frst time since I heard the news of my Mother’s death I broke. I put my head on this complete strangers shoulder and sobbed my heart out as he comforted me.

I can almost hear all the wallah’s that he talks of.

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One thing that is kind of "baked" into my subconscious somewhere is – the "Prabhaat-pheris" – near the Gurpurab. Also there was this lone guy who would go along our street around 5 am during the winters singing a song urging everyone to get up and pray and not waste the morning hours! How I hated him!! 🙂 and how he became a part of me!

I also cannot forget the flute of our chowkidar – the neighborhood watchman – being played in dark hours of a wintery night.. with such tranquility that it would make me feel as if I was in the hills and an angel was playing this tune that came through the unknown fog….

How I miss Delhi of my childhood! Now, even if I go back – the Karol Bagh that I grew up in will never come even close to the old charm!

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