Mission Delhi – Katto, Matia Mahal
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
She likes guavas, which is pretty conventional for somebody like her. She is a parrot.
“Her name is Katto, call her by her name,” says fruit-seller Zakir a bit sternly. His tone instantly softens as he starts talking to the parro… oops, as he starts talking to Katto.
“How are you, my Katto? I love you so much. Do you know that?”
But Katto’s claws are perched on a stack of oranges, and her gaze is constantly shifting towards the adjacent stack of tempting guavas.
The young Zakir’s fruit cart is parked on a pavement in Old Delhi’s Matia Mahal Bazaar. His home is nearby. He acquired Katto just last week. “I got her for 300 rupees from Meena Bazaar,” he explains, referring to a nearby market where you can shop for all sorts of miscellaneous stuff from artificial jewelery, mobile phone battery chargers, wedding lehengas, wall clocks, fruit juice mixers to caged birds.
But Katto isn’t in a cage.
“She can’t leave me,” Zakir says. Katto’s wings are tied to her feet on either sides by a rubber band.
Katto has already acquired some sort of stardom in the area. Passers-by are stopping by, and calling out to her affectionately. Everyone seems to know her name.
Not all non-human creatures are so well-known in the locality. The lane is teeming with dogs and cats, but nobody is stopping to pat these anonymous strays, though they do look well-fed, thanks to the scraps of meat that the kind butchers throw at them—many small meat shops here. The local sky over the neighbourhood remains crowded throughout the day with bands of pigeons, though those pigeons are just blurs in the air when seen from the street, with no individuality. Unlike Katto.
But then, Katto cannot fly.
Now a man arrives. Katto seems to know him. She eagerly jumps on his finger tip. The man kisses Katto on her beak. He then carefully places her on the top of a guava. Katto starts tapping on the fruit with her beak, as if knocking at a friend’s door.
Meanwhile Zakir gets restless, asking the onlookers to disperse if they aren’t planning to buy his fruits. He and Katto are left alone.
[This is the 385th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
Bound by love and a rubber band