Mission Delhi – Tippu, Chelmsford Road
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Everyone is walking freely but not him. He is not a human like us.
One cloudy afternoon The Delhi Walla meets a very edible-looking white rooster on Chelmsford Road, the avenue in the city’s central district that goes to New Delhi railway station. The rooster is standing on a raised pavement; one of his yellow legs is tied by a plastic cord to a telephone cable. He is able to hop up only to the edge of the pavement. His world ends there.
The only material object available to the rooster is an earthen pan filled with water. Next to it is a shoeshine stall.
The rooster is not making any noise. The traffic on the road is dense but he is not being noticed by the commuters although his red crest should catch their eyes.
Soon a little boy appears. He is barefoot. Standing still with his arms on his hips, he possessively looks down at the quiet rooster. “He is mine, my Tippu,” the boy says.
It turns out that the boy’s name is Mithun.
Picking up the rooster, Mithun, whose home is in a nearby slum, says, “Tippu lives with me.” The rooster pecks the boy on his cheek. Mithun returns the affection by kissing him on his beak.
Kake da Hotel, an eatery famous for its butter chicken, is just a few steps away.
Mithun kneels down on the pavement and gently releases the rooster on the cement floor. Tippu quickly runs up to the wall. The next moment he again hops up to the edge of the pavement. Mithun says he misses Tippu during his school hours—his teacher doesn’t allow entry to the rooster.
Just then a rickshaw comes to a stop. “Papa!” exclaims Mithun. The rickshaw puller gets down and embraces Mithun. His kind eyes then turn to Tippu.
Mithun’s father says he had bought Tippu a year ago from one of the bird stalls that are set up daily outside the Jama Masjid in Old Delhi. Tippu was priced quite high but he was able to bring down the price to 200 rupees.
What is this rooster’s destiny?
Mithun says that he plans to live the rest of his life with Tippu. His father says that though they are non-vegetarians, they would never ever make a curry out of Tippu.
Probably unaware that we are talking about him, the fat rooster continues to look on at the moving cars.
[This is the 103rd portrait of Mission Delhi project]
The boy’s best friend