Father on the bridge and the son he wanted to see
Father on the bridge and the son he wanted to see

NEW DELHI: PTI's photograph of a man on the phone, his face twisted in grief, was circulated widely on social and news media and resulted in help being provided to him to reach his home in Bihar.

PTI photographer Atul Yadav recounts his meeting with Rampukar Pandit on a Delhi roadside and the powerful image that captured the tragedy of migrants across India: He was talking on the phone and sobbing uncontrollably on the Nizamuddin Bridge.

And I just couldn't drive on. In the last few weeks, I have come across and photographed so many migrants, one more helpless than the other, and honestly, I didn't expect to feel surprised at the sight of a grown man crying. But I was. Inured as we are, his naked grief shook me.

It felt personal enough for me to not simply click a picture and move on. I just had to know what was bothering him. His son was unwell and might die, and he just wanted to go back home, the desperate father told me.

I asked him where, and the 40-something man just managed to say "udhar" (there) in between sobs, pointing at the expanse of the road stretching across the Yamuna and meandering towards Delhi's border some miles away.

It was only much later that I realised home was Bariarpur in Begusarai in Bihar, almost 1,200 km away. He said he worked as a labourer in Najafgarh and, in the absence of any public transport, had started walking home like thousands of other migrants across the country.

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