Abdul Hannan Kolkata 2002
It was in December 2002 whilst I was walking through ‘The Maiden’ when I first saw Abdul. The Maiden is the huge Park in central Kolkata where hundreds of people meet to either watch or play cricket. I didn’t know his name then but Abdul was sitting close to the press pavilion and he was counting his coins. Abdul was begging by the side of the curb and as I walked passed him he smiled at me and I smiled back.
Over the course of the next few days I saw Abdul sitting in the same place and each time I passed him we acknowledged each other. One morning before I was about to leave Kolkata I went to find Abdul and I asked him of I could take his portrait. He said yes.
Three years later, I was walking along the busy road that leads to Park Street cemetery and I came across a figure that I recognised asleep on the pavement. It was Abdul. I took one photograph of Abdul and woke him from his sleep, when he recognised me he wrapped his arms around me. After this meeting I kept bumping in to Abdul from time to time and we would go and have a drink, him a cup of Tea and me a glass of beer. He told me his full name was Abdul Hannan and he was married with five children but as he had no work he begged on the street and he sent the money back to his family.
He told me that the police had eventually moved him from his spot in The Maiden and he was now sleeping rough, he told me that he really didn’t get on to well with his wife, so he preferred not to go home, though if he wished to go home, he could.
The very last time I saw Abdul was in 2008, I bought him a pair of shoes which he was very grateful for and in return he bought me a beer. I always look for Abdul when ever I am in Kolkata.
Portrait Jason Scott Tilley