City Moment – A Bird on Death Row, Farash Khana
The beautiful Delhi instant.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The Delhi Walla is on the rooftop of a house in Farash Khana, a congested neighbourhood in the Walled City. It is evening. There is a boy and a woman, who is sharpening a knife on silbatta, a stone used for grinding chutneys. The boy is carrying a bird cage. Inside it is teetar, the grey francolin. “It tastes very nice,” says the boy. The woman raises her head, looks at the bird, smiles, and says, “It’s especially good in the winter. Its meat is very warm.”
The knife is sharpened. The boy unlocks the cage. The bird refuses to move. The woman pushes it out. “We bought it two weeks ago from the bazaar in front of Red Fort,” the boy says. “It makes irritating sounds, especially in the night.” The woman holds the bird in her hand. The boy says, “Now, we’ll eat it.”
The woman asks the boy to get water. “It’s hot. Let it have a few drops,” she says, placing the bird on the floor. As if having an inkling of its fate, the creature quickly hops behind a flower pot. The boy brings a plastic wiper and nudges out the bird. Picking it up, the woman squeezes the neck. The boy hands her the knife. The bird flutters her wings. Just then the muezzin from a nearby mosque starts calling the faithful for the maghrib prayer. The air fills up with his melodious voice. Allah hoo Akbar. Allah hoo Akbar. “Let’s not kill it,” says the woman, releasing the bird. “Ok, as you say,” the boy says, a little disheartened. The bird hops into its cage. It’s a beautiful moment.
Sweetheart, I’m eating you tonight
For your quick relief
Your time starts now
Running for life
Back to the guillotine
Life & Death
Your meat is warm
Tik tok tik
The knife is dumped
You shall live