[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
They were dancing to a Hindi film song from the 1980s–Mukka la muqabla laila.
One night The Delhi Walla was in Galli Shiv Prasad Master, a dead-end street in the Mughal era Walled City. The lane was lit up with elaborately-decorated hanging lamps. The part where it ended into a courtyard-like space was turned into a dance floor. The loud music was playing from a mobile phone, which was connected to a stereo.
A small cluster group of men were gathered around the two dancers. Some were seated on chairs; others on parked scooters. A handful of women stood behind one of the doors.
There was to be a wedding in one of the houses. It was the evening before the big day.
The two dancing boys were in their own world. They were swinging around wildly as if they were no longer in control of their bodies. One would flap his arms. The other would wriggle his hips. At one point, the boy in the cream-colored T-shirt stood on his head.
Even so a few people showed no interest in the live performance. Two men stood a little distance away on the otherwise empty street, around its only turning, and continued to talk to each other. Far away, where the street merged into the busy road, two more men were deep in conversation.
Finally, the song ended. Both the boys immediately melted away into their audience. The boy in the blue shirt, however, tried to strut around like a pop star. The other simply sat down on a seat, among his friends. And then something came over him. He started to blush. He wouldn’t utter a word. After a while, his shyness grew so intense that he lowered his head and covered his face with his hands. It was a beautiful moment.
Dancing and afterwards