Mission Delhi – Mukesh the Chicken, Old Delhi
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Most chickens are probably born equal, but some are definitely more equal than others.
Case in point: Consider a particular chicken named Mukesh, who is a very lucky bird. While all his fellow chickens are crammed into wired cages, the white-feathered Mukesh is happily perched atop, relishing his freedom.
“He’s my paala hua (pet),” explains Zara Ahmad, a soft-spoken roadside butcher here in Old Delhi. “I feel attached to Mukesh, so he’ll never be slaughtered. He’ll, I think, die a natural death.”
How the caged chickens may feel about this arrangement is unknown. Whatever else, they certainly haven’t caught Mr Ahmad’s fancy. “Mukesh is the only chicken here to have a name,” he confesses.
This late morning, Mukesh is looking around the street with evident disinterest, while these doomed birds display more animation. Jam-packed against each other, they obviously can’t move. But their alert eyes dart about continuously. It is impossible to tell what’s going on in their brains. Now, Mr Ahmad reaches inside the cage and randomly plucks out a chicken. A minute later he reaches for another one. All the while, Mukesh remains perched atop the cage, seemingly unaware of the drama taking place right under his feet. Mr Ahmad, in the meantime, continues his grim task until evening, when he’ll return home, with Mukesh under his arm.
[This is the 194th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
The chicken who shall never become a curry