Space For Rent

Space For Rent
Monday, December 8, 2014, Agrahayan 24, 1421, Safar 14, 1436 Hijr

In small-town India, a monument to love
Published : Monday, 8 December, 2014,  Time : 2:53 PM,  View Count : 26
Qadri designed the building himself, clearly inspired by India's ancient monuments. But he laughed when villagers started calling it the Taj Mahal, after the mausoleum famously built by a Mughal king for his favorite wife. Kaser Kalan, (India) : Light pours in when the retired postman opens the window to his bedroom. A withered old poster filled with flowers appears out of the shadows. "Love is enough," the poster says.

Faizul Hasan Qadri is 79 now. He and his wife, Tajammuli, were married when they were teenagers, and were together for 58 years. Three years ago, she died.

Now, he can look out that window and see the monument he is building in Tajammuli's memory. The central building has a rounded ceiling and archways, echoing the architecture of the long-gone Mughal kings who once ruled India. Four towers are on the building's perimeter. It is Tajammuli's tomb.

"We were just a normal couple," says Qadri. It was an arranged marriage, a practice that remains widespread across India, and near-universal when he was a young man. "Whenever we had a fight and I was angry, she would keep quiet and vice versa."

They never had any children. One day, Tajammuli asked who would remember them once they were gone. "I will build a tomb that everybody will remember," he told her. It was for her, he says, though one day he will also be laid inside it.

After she died, he sold her small pieces of jewelry and some family farmland. He added everything he'd saved over the years and started building. Tajammuli lies inside the main building in a small tomb, but almost three years later the project still unfinished. He doesn't have much money, and only hires workers when he can afford it.

People have offered to help, but he says no.

"It is a proof of love. I have to do it on my own," Qadri says.

So far he has spent £10,500 of his life savings, sold off family heirlooms and raided his pension to build the 5000sq ft structure.

He is struggling to complete the job because of a lack of money but refuses to take donations as he wants to prove his devotion to his wife, who died in December 2011.

Mr Kadari said: 'I never had any children and my wife told me on her death bed that since we don't have anyone to continue our name we will be forgotten.

'That day I promised her that I will make a grave in her name so grand the entire world will remember us forever.'

Mr Kadari can see the Taj Mahal from his home in rural Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh state, India.

His decision to copy it is fitting as the original structure in Agra was itself a loving tribute to a late wife.

The white marble mausoleum was built in 1631 by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife Mumtaz Mahal.

Like the original, Mr Kadari's version also houses the body of his late wife but it is made from sandstone, redstone, cement and iron.

The former postmaster also hopes that he can be buried there next to his beloved wife.

But work has ground to a halt after his money ran dry.

He said: 'I laid the foundations in February 2012. I used to work on it for eight hours a day including one hour for lunch.

'But last September I had to stop because I couldn't find enough money to pay people to help me with the labour.

'So far I sold off my land worth six lakhs (£7,000) and my wife's ornaments for 1.5 lakhs (£1,700) and withdrawn all my money from my pension, which totalled another 1.5 lakhs.

'Now all I can afford to spend is about one lakh a year (£1,155). I cannot afford anything more than that and it is not enough to sustain the building work needed.

'All I care about is completing the structure before I die.'

Eventually Mr Kadari hopes to replicate the intricate details of the original - including sprawling fountains in front, a tree lined approach and ornate brick work.

But currently the frail pensioner is unable to work on his dream due to the intense summer heat and a lack of funds.

He said: 'There is a little bit of money trouble but I will not take any financial help from anyone and I will complete this structure on my own.

'People did tell me that I shouldn't be wasting my money and that it would have been better spent on funding a young couples own marriage.

'But to those people I say that this has been built in remembrance of my wife.'

The structure has made the local area famous across India with people desperate to see the mini Taj Mahal.

His neighbour and cousin Mazaal Hassan Quadri said: 'This will obviously beautify our village. It has already made us very famous in the name of the mini Taj Mahal.

Qadri designed the building himself, clearly inspired by India's ancient monuments. But he laughed when villagers started calling it the Taj Mahal, after the mausoleum famously built by a Mughal king for his favorite wife. He'd only visited the Taj Mahal once. It is 140 kilometers (85 miles) away from here, and they had little money for traveling. Tajammuli only saw it in pictures.

In the bedroom, a clock ticks next a picture of the couple in their older years, and Qadri reads aloud from love poems he wrote for her after she died. Beside him sits a marble plaque engraved with Tajammuli's name. He will install it, he says, only once the mausoleum is completed.

If he has to, he will keep working on it until he dies.

When that happens, his younger brother Mehzul Hasan, 70, will bury him next to his wife, and finish the job.


Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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