Lessons from the Remotes of Rajasthan!

My only idea of joint family comes from my mother’s anecdotes or Suraj Barjtya films. My social life being more limited than a gourmet meal, it only came as a joke to my parents when I decided to take up a month-long internship in a rural village of Rajasthan.

Only after reaching Bajju* did I realize, I was supposed to live in a campus among 40 sexists and 20 suppressed creatures. The sexists were not allowed to look at female members and the suppressed wouldn’t take interest if you weren’t one of their brigades. My only instant friend was a self-inviting dog there who went by the name ‘Lali’. As a few days passed, it was clear that it was the last place on the earth to find like-minded people.

One of my tasks there was to teach theatre to 7 refugee kids who were allotted a block next to mine, in the hostel area which generally remained dark and vacant. I had never in my life dealt with so many kids for so many hours at a stretch but only for the love of dramatics and appearing productive, I jumped at the opportunity. In the beginning, these seemingly innocent teenagers were quite afraid of me but two days later, threat translated into a concern for them. for some reason, they realized that the object of threat aka me was actually dealing with a lot of ‘firsts’ simultaneously. Now, this is one salient feature that kids from such areas come with- they think a stranger in their vicinity is their responsibility. So, they started showing up at my door to wake me up early, call out for meals, and even to help me with my daily chores. They barged in to offer me food, leak each other’s secrets, resolve their quarrels, watch a movie and tell me if my outfit of the day worked or not.

I remember how once when I had scolded little Chhattar Singh, a few minutes later he was out at the door singing my favourite song. Their presence inter-weaved in my routine so subtly that I never realized when I went on from becoming their mentor to a family.

A few days after completing the marathon of performing a skit in different villages, they stayed back on the campus for formalities. The exchange of conversation and surprises continued until one fine day when they suddenly barged in my room and gathered around me with their palms in my face. “Didi, naam likho! Didi, didi star.Sign banaona! Didi number likho! Mera aur aapka naam likho!” they said. The chaos went silent as Mahavir chacha (One of the humble workers on the campus) honked loudly, sitting in the jeep. “Gadi us taraf ja rahi hai, to bacho ko aj hi ghar bhej rahe hai. Mil lo main ruka hoon paanch minute”, he said.

I turned around. The kids looked back in silence. I signed their little palms and they hugged me back. None of us said anything, neither did we stop looking at each other unless the jeep took them out of sight.

The campus felt more vacant that evening but not more than my heart.

I never knew I could be so touchy about someone else’s kids or that I was capable of loving strangers. Guess what…now I know that having people to look after and being looked after isn’t that bad!

(Bajju * = a small village, 100 kms from Bikaner and towards Pakistan)

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The Art of Doing Nothing!

It takes a bunch of leave letters, dozens of permissions, and  a couple of projects more than the routine pile to snatch that right to vacation and head straight home. And all this stress to attend a family function or visit that similar spot where all your folks meet every year or to take a trip, spend a fortune, come back tired and dull? Sad! All these vacation plans of yours might be fun at times but trust me it is not a ‘break’. You don’t take a break from your normal routine so that you can go labour at some other stuff which is quite not worth the toil that you intake round-the-year. You take a break that serves as nothing but a BREAK. Or, call it doing nothing which by the way is hell lot contradictory to its meaning.

Have you ever come across a man walking by the beach eating his farm-fresh carrot or just lying on the grass under the sky? He does nothing and that nothingness is ditching the clock and doing what he feels like doing and not escaping or postponing what needs to be done.

This ‘doing nothing’ break is sure not difficult but absolutely more interesting than it sounds. It is not one of those days when you get an unexpected off and you rot in front of TV like a couch potato. It is one such break where you ignore all the chores that need your attention deliberately with not a dot of guilt to stain your hiatus. It is about ruining your routine with pleasure. It is like treating your place as a farm-house. Waking up at odd hours, taking long showers, living all the while in your PJs, moving in that worn out yet comfy slip-on, having cookies for lunch and cornflakes for supper, forgetting the day and the date or even the month if you can, answering the door-bell only if you feel like getting up, experimenting a recipe from Google if you want to play a chef, painting the pots even if you suck at it, going out for a midnight walk without deciding on route and duration, falling asleep with a popcorn tub on your lap and book on your face, watching sitcoms all day long and trying to balance the number of seasons with the ice-cream tubs; like not caring enough about what next. It has to be a break from your regular activities. It is a clubbed set of many little things that you do back-to-back subtly that when asked “what are you doing” you would smile and say “nothing”!

 

-Moulika Y Danak

Misplacing the Mains

Sometimes it’s only about misplacing your mains; like having some very right expectations from the wrong people. If you figure out it as sun, do not expect it to shine at night.
You know how a marigold can’t grow in a rose plant, right?! And us humans, sometimes we are like those marigolds, never going to appear, in someone’s rose plant!
But what’s saddening yet funny is that some of us wait on the Daffodils, all our life!

That Beautiful Instance!

As I went on talking to her,
about you and your whetted behaviour,
She looked past me,
I turned back and saw thee.
With a smile that seemed gay,
You gave me a cold in May.
So, you knew it all this time?!
I gave that away in mime!
But how could I care,
‘Cause next, we were walking hand-in-hand;
In a people occupied lane,
In the world that knows me well.
Yet I walked like ’twas just the two of us
That comprised
of this world.
No questions asked,
No doubts resolved,
We simply kept walking down the lane;
because your presence was yet completely to be inhaled
And that made all my complaints and pain look so trivial then!
I was so in the moment and wallowed.
Ah, you came like a wind,
stayed like a zephyr
And went away like a storm, as if it was all a dream!
Leaving me perplexed and vexed,
Clueless if we even have a next!
I was scared
I yelled.
Yet deep down happy,
I woke up!
Alas, it was indeed a dream!

MOULIKA DANAK

Oh, Silly You!

Of all the people I know,

Your nothingness is more meaningful to me than their substantiality,

Your silence way cosy than my conversations with them,

Your absence more prominent compared to their presence,

Your flaws far beautiful than their perfections!

Yet you wonder if I love you?!

-Moulika Danak

Him!

I found him looking at me,
With wide eyes glowing more than his yellow baggy tee,
He looked away but not for long!

Our eyes met again,
He gazed,
I looked away
To let him have his way!

We caught our eyes again and this time,
This time he walked towards me,
The rhythm of his feet tuning to my heartbeat,
With a half hidden smile I breathe a little deeper!
He had sealed my time
The dewdrops were pearls,
Flowers eternal,
All sound was music,
All in-between the essential nothings!

“This!”my soul cried!
Oh yes, It was a beautiful tide!
And so, eyes denied looking away,
‘Coz soul knew I had found my bae!