One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Here’s a real-life story with a happy ending.
The greatest landmark of Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti is its Sufi shrine from which this Central Delhi village takes its name. The area’s other important monument is poet Ghalib’s tomb. But the greatest living landmark here is not some dervish or Sufi music singer or Ghalib scholar. It is a homeless man with a brown dog. Nobody knows his name. He never talks. He just parked himself permanently in one corner of Ghalib Street and there he has been existing for years in conditions unfit for any human survival—men, goats, dogs freely relieve themselves around him. One could mistake the bearded man for a Biblical prophet atoning for the sins of mankind.
In January 2016, The Delhi Walla featured him on the website’s Mission Delhi series in which I’m trying to profile one percent of Delhi’s population. I had written:
“The corner where Kuttey Walle Baba spends his days and nights smells of a public urinal… His daily ration of tea and food is supplied for free by the area’s pious shopkeepers… I have often tried talking to Kuttey Walle Baba but he would never utter a word. One day he started to talk: “My name is Khudiram. I’m from Assam. I have been living here for a hundred years.””
The other evening I failed to spot Kuttey Walle Baba at his corner. Instead, there were two goats. The nearby vendors said that a few days ago his relatives arrived from Assam and took him away. A pavement barber explained that a relative who was visiting Delhi spotted Kutte Walle Baba in the Basti and immediately called up his family.
Kutte Walley Baba must be in his home now. But does he miss his Delhi ‘home’? Is he really happy? And what happened to his dog?
The story of man