Living in Gurgaon (or ‘Gurugram’), one is used to the crowds, the stares, the rush, the traffic—both human and vehicular. But as one walks through Wazirabad, past the market and the constant traffic jams, the lanes start to get narrower, the crowds slowly disappear, and time isn’t your enemy anymore. Amidst this quiet and chaos of Wazirabad, I found Sangeeta and Bimlesh, residing in a building extraordinary in itself, accommodating nineteen families renting out a room each, with a common washroom on each floor and a common terrace for the entire building. With almost every family coming from a different state, the building is like a country in itself, or like a jigsaw puzzle—everyone with their own quirks fitting together to make one huge family, and trusting enough to trust leave every room door open every room’s door to be left open.What brought me to both these women was an organization named Nrinam, run by Aishwarya Tandon with the goal to provide vocational skills, such as sewing, stitching, and embroidery, in order to ensure the financial independence of a number of girls and women around Gurgaon. Meeting Sangeeta and Bimlesh, I was thrown by how genuinely happy they were, and how unfamiliar it felt to see and experience such happiness. Meeting them, I realised that sometimes happiness could be fine enough to pass through the eye of the needle hole unnoticed, but sews sewing itself over and over into the lives of Sangeeta and Bimlesh.
Four-member families living in one little room with a television, refrigerator, bed, all serendipitously fit into a limited space that alternates between being an office work space, a resting place, a space for living and dining, yet causing no conflict between its inhabitants or their spaces. Photographing their everyday lives—working in the kitchen, taking care of their children, making a life within the four walls of a home which never seems to restrict them—their lives celebrate the fact that grandeur is often in the small, elusive details. Both Sangeeta and Bimlesh’s husbands wholeheartedly support their endeavors, a reminder that the simplest joys in life come with a gentle push and the quietest support. Greatness sometimes lies in the most fleeting things in our day-to-day lives: it is stirred well with sugar in a hot cup of tea; it can be heard in the creaking noise of an old fan overhead. Grandeur dissolves in the silent victories, risen hopes, and laughter of children on the streets of Wazirabad, who celebrate the extraordinary grandeur of smallness in the most ordinary of ways.
Photographs & Text – Aparna Mohindra