One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
He is standing quietly on a stationery scooter. The Delhi Walla approaches him. The scooter is parked in an alley in Turkman Gate, a congested neighbourhood in the Walled City. He looks to his left.
A fighter cock, Sultan was born in Punjab a year ago. He arrived in Delhi after being gifted to Mohammed Danish, a butcher in Turkman Gate.
“He eats 50 gm bajra daily,” Mr Danish says. “He also likes almonds.”
“Why is he perched on the scooter?” I ask.
“He likes watching people walking up and down the street.”
While it is impossible to determine what is going on in Sultan’s mind, the shape of his beak is so sculptured that he appears to be sad. As if he is thinking: “Look people, what the world has come down to.”
Mr Danish’s stall is littered with bloodstained chicken feet. The chickens that are still to be slaughtered are stuffed in cages. The consignment arrived in the morning from Punjab.
“When will you kill Sultan?” I ask.
Mr Danish looks puzzled.
“We take him to cock fights. He is a champion. We will never kill him.”
“Do you make money when he wins?”
Mr Danish remains silent.
I try to look into Sultan’s eye, which is glistening with a moist film of melancholy.
A bearded man, going towards the direction of Chitli Bazaar chowk, stops, examines the cock for a minute and moves on.
“Will you sell him to me?” I ask Mr Danish.
He walks towards Sultan, gently keeps his arm on his wings, and says, “Sultan is worth Rs 10,000 but… he belongs to my heart.”
Sultan, who is standing on his own excreta, again looks to his left.
[This is the 67th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
The kingly cock