City Moment – Syed & Bhuriya, Ansari Road
A Delhi instant.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Rickshaw puller Syyed lives alone.
That’s not entirely correct, he clarifies. “I’m not completely alone. I have a saathi (companion).”
Syyed explains that at night he sleeps on his rickshaw. “I park it on the pavement… many other rickshaw wale of the area sleep the same way, on the passengers’ seat of their (respective) rickshaws, which are parked in one long row… we are friendly with each other.”
This conversation is unfolding one late morning near central Delhi’s Ansari Road.
And now Syyed opens up about the aforementioned saathi—Bhuriya. “It’s not bhuriya, an old woman, but bhuriya, the brown coloured.”
Syyed’s Bhuriya is a stray dog. Every night she sleeps on his rickshaw’s floor-board, or underneath the vehicle, depending on her mood.
Their friendship goes back to several years ago. Syyed, a UP native from Bulandshahr, has been in the city for a decade. He arrived first in the area, and Bhuriya appeared much later. Their friendship solidified gradually. “I would give her roti and biskut, or whatever else I would be eating, and she would come to me whenever she felt hungry.” Soon, she started to come to him even when she wasn’t hungry.
Bhuriya is nowhere to be seen at the moment.
“Nahin nahin, she must be here somewhere.”
Syyed calls out to Bhuriya. The dog appears as if out of air. She leaps towards Syyed’s rickshaw, raises her forelegs and plops her head on Syyed’s lap, who is sitting on the rickshaw’s much higher passenger seat. Syyed picks her up and places the dog on his lap. Bhuriya’s tail is flapping wildly, like a fish out of water. Tapping Bhuriya’s happy face with his hand, Syyed responds to a query, confirming that he daily buys Mother Dairy milk packets for the dog. “Bhuriya looks after me, so I look after her.”
Following a long pause in which he chats with Bhuriya in their own special language, their eyes locked into each other’s gaze, Syyed says that most of his daily earnings are spent in Bhuriya’s food, and in his nightly liquor consumption. He believes money will never be a problem to him. “If I give to others, God will give to me.”
He now kisses Bhuriya, who continues to look delighted. Its a beautiful moment.