Friday, February 22, 2013

The Girl In the Postcard

i must be imagining things or i am just too excited. Whatever...

It can happen with anyone when this happens.
When you have a still image of someone in a postcard and you realize one fine morning that you actually got to see that image live. 
Only thing when you stood next to the live version smothering her with some questions and much sympathy you were happily unawares that she could be featuring in that small booklet. The ones that are available at a very affordable price in the souvenir shops and often seen strewn at most of the pavement shops giving you consolidated images of the must see of the place visited.

i was just too involved. Surveying the Sam Dunes (pronounced S O M E...Some Dunes) in all it's glorious natural golden ripples. Didn't even realize her being behind me. Not until i experienced a timid tug on my tunic. 

Smiling in her like a gypsy attire and whispering something. i bent down to bring my ears close to her mouth so that i could decipher what she was saying. To my amazement it was nothing esoteric but my own mother tongue Hindi.
" Can i dance for you?'' That's what she had asked. Just that and kept smiling. i remember that smile well. The smile that looks more eager than it being just a meaningless curve. The kind that pleads for attention and elicits. Then you just can't control the deluge of emotions that engulf you. Especially when you are well aware of your own well being.
A turbaned man stood a few steps behind her holding what looked like a Been the musical instrument that snake charmers play.

Did i want her to dance for me, NO.
All i wanted to do was to hold her, comfort her...

i could not get to voice out that NO and shook my head in the negative. The turbaned man had come closer and was sitting on his haunches. His feet digging and settling well on to the rippled dunes. The Been all set to be played. Both his hands holding the instrument and the pipe touching his mouth. He started playing, his eyes fixed on to the smiling little one in the gypsy attire.
The Been playing the song that i am well aware of. Nimbuda! Nimbuda! Nimbuda...
She had started dancing and with all her moves reached forward to hold my hands pulling me in with all her frailty luring me to join in. i had forgotten my NO and complied, trying to mimic her moves in vain. i couldn't match her in anyway not with my two left foot and my fully conscious sense of being hopelessly out of rhythm gyrations.
Nevertheless imagining myself to be the Sri Devi (in the film Lamhe) of Morni Bagha Ma Bole Aaadhi Raat Maa...
Don't really know why i asked her to stop when i was as a matter of fact enjoying everything. Seema and her dance, the music floating... The sun about to set on the amazingly beautiful panorama of the sand dunes.

Aware more than ever of my wellness and feeling rather guilty i gave her some money and said thank you. Then remembering something had uttered the same again...Dhanyawaad, Shukriya...this time also looking towards the turbaned man.
He had folded his hands in a Namaste, Pranam. His eyes brimming with gratitude, the musical Been tucked under his arms.
Only i know that the money was not given in charity. No self righteousness here. The money was given with more of a the end gesture. ...okay it's enough now get moving... .

i was nervous. Wishing for them to just disappear. Feeling not only guilty but cruel too.

She lingered with her smile and as if to compensate or get rid of what was going inside me i started talking to her. Mostly questions.
What was her name...
Did she receive any training to dance so well...
Was the turbaned man her father...
How far was her village...

While the turbaned man stood waiting with folded arms to let her satisfy me, she had answered all precisely without adding more or missing any.
That her name was Seema.
She had learnt all her moves by watching others do the same.
The turbaned man was her Mama ( mother's brother).
Her village was some miles away from the Sam Sand Dunes.

That smile had not left her face... but her sad eyes conveyed lots. Answering much of that i could not bring myself to ask...

That being over and they still had not left me. i was getting restless by now to see the man standing with folded hands and so i went near to him asking him to show me his Been.
Finally hands free of the gratitude he passed his instrument to me. Not without giving me the real name of his musical instrument. 
That's what he said it is called.
And i thought Murali was what Lord Krishna played...something that looked like a flute.
The sounds of which was similar if not exactly to the Been that i had known and was distinctly different from Krishna's Bansuri (FLUTE).
About this one i had asked about how it is made and he had enlightened me with more facts about his Murali.
Maybe i was just buying time to get rid of that awkwardness of them hovering around still... i definitely didn't want him standing there with folded hands.
By the time he had told me his name...Gagan...i remember seeing Seema running effortlessly through the dunes towards the camel that had just arrived. Her prospective patrons surveying too. They were looking on both flanks of the camel and surveying how best to alight from the camel without pressurizing their stiff joints.

i sit feeling excited today that the girl in the postcard is Seema. i saw her dance for me and later loosen my stiff with arthritis limbs too. 
Regretting somewhat why i was swept by that wave of sympathy and something more.
i should have recorded her dance, her filled with verve and vitality movements which gave me a glimpse of little bit of all of the folk dances of Rajasthan...the Ghoomar, Kalbelia, Bhavai, Terataali...
i should've allowed myself to get swept away with the music of the Murali that Gagan jee played. The music of the desert from that reed instrument made of bamboo pipe and gourd shell.
Instead i let it all pass just too hastily. Just like how we generally and often behave at the traffic lights. Rolling the glass windows at the approaching begging urchins who hasten towards the waiting for the signal to go car.
After all this happens everyday.
But Seema the postcard girl and her dance, Gagan jee and his Murali don't. Neither do the ripples of gold, crested seas...


  1. Maybe the city lives have made us get accustomed to just let everyone pass by in a jiffy. But regret not, coz the details that you have jotted shows you have savored your moments with the postcard girl , only perhaps not longer. I would give anything to see the innocence on the faces of such people, who teach us maybe how little is required to live a happy life...

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  3. @Kiran...long time no hear but thanks for being here and saying what you feel. Tue what you say about happiness. That very little is required to live a happy life and yet don't know how or why happiness is transitory and many a times eludes...
    We who don't have to seek attention or tug anyone for that and can dance away in happiness or them who do that and dance but not for happiness but something even more basic. Sustenance.
    Thank you for allowing me to say more and permitting conversation which is so hard to get by these days.
    Hope to see more of you for just that.