Suhaib opens the doors to his father’s pamphlet and poster design shop in Gali Hajjan Bi of Mohalla Rodgaran. The chair he used to sit on has not been moved from its place. The two desktops in the shop are cold, devoid of any electronic hum, and coated in a thick layer of dust. Sample pamphlets lie in the corners, fading.
Saud-Ur-Rahman died on November 16 while standing in a queue outside a bank in Old Delhi’s Lal Kuan. His postmortem report said the cause of death was cardiac arrest.
Ever since, all that his 20-year-old son does is sit in the shop and cry for hours. Or he wanders from shop to shop, looking for someone to teach him designing so that he can take over his father’s business.
Suhaib has dropped out of advanced Microsoft Excel classes, trying to help the family — his mother, and his sisters who are 11, 17 and 23 years old.
Forty-eight-year-old Rahman was just another aam aadmi, living life day to day, running his little shop and providing for his wife and four children. He was prone to cholesterol and blood pressure problems and had a history of heart illness. The doctor had advised him to steer clear of crowds.
The doctor’s warning, however, was the last thing on his mind when he stood for three days straight in a serpentine queue from 3 am to 11 am with no luck. When news of demonetisation broke, Rahman had Rs 6,000 at home. He had to exchange the scrapped notes or his family would starve. While in standing in the queue on the third day, Rahman complained of uneasiness and a seething chest pain. He called his relatives and was rushed to a hospital. Thirty minutes later, he died at central Delhi’s JPN Hospital.
The only legal currency he owned at the time of his death was in coins.
No one from his family has been able to muster the courage to stand in an ATM queue since. They have been managing with meagre savings and help from relatives. Rahman’s oldest daughter, who did not want to be named, is a pharmacist in Lal Kuan. She is scrambling to keep up with everything her father managed.
Zoha, the youngest, is having the hardest time coming to terms with her father’s death. Her mother is compelled to take her to school every day like her father used to. She waits outside the whole day, a lone figure in widow’s weeds, trying to fill her husband’s shoes in the only way she can.