Saturday, January 2, 2010

Kazgi chunri.

 All she could see was the outline of the undulating clay in front of her eyes, shaping into something so beautiful that she couldn't help but get aroused. Everything else was bleary and all she could do was concentrate her energy in her hands that molds such beauty. Alwar was a distinctive town located in the thirst of Rajasthan where tourists seem to wander in awe of the valleys and perspire in the search of decent hotels. It was a charming town with a past for architectural love and kazgi pottery. Her hands never stopped, her eyes never stopped following.

     Wanderers would interest Geeta a lot. With their backpacks and long hair, she often wondered if at all these people had a family, whether they cared, whether they cherish these sands? She had seen the type of people, her own color trying very hard to talk to her in an accent, pink looking men smiling everywhere they go, red haired women wanting to have a look at her belly button as what they thought they were looking at was a 'tattoo' and things like that which turned her pride as she wasn't a person that her family particularly liked.

It was hard to miss her face, her face with those beautifully carved eyes, her full mouth and a sharp nose where her jaw moved with beautiful grace when she spoke, leaving her with a captivating grin whenever she would draw a smile. It was even hard to look at such a wonder of unnatural sophistication in a  lehenga that reached her ankles and wrapped in a chunri covering her body. She was aboveboard in her nature of speaking that ironically some found very deceptive as one doesn't find people speaking in lines of honesty and actuality and having to be the most frequent person to be asked questions to or bought things from was a matter of disgust to the community.

" Kidhar ke ho?", the man with the colorful turban, kakaji, asked him in curiosity.
" Jaha ka bhi hoon, filhaal toh yahi ka hoon", he answered in a chuckle and held the mans hand in greeting.
" angrezi aati hai tumko?
" Seekh raha hu, mere masterji ki mehnat hai. "
" Chalo, tum jhoot toh nahi bolte bakiyo ki tarah, aajao andar."
 He entered the hut with the sweet smell of lime pickle and sat down when the mother of the house, ammaji, came with a glass of buttermilk and a side smile on her covered face.
He saw a few statues of goddesses standing in the yard behind the window. He immediately got up with a song in his head. He touched one of those statues, felt its ripples and closed his eyes.

" aaye ho to kuch shuru bhi karlo", kakaji said in a manner of announcing his presence in the background.
He didn't look behind him. He started what he had come here to do. There were piles of sandstones and marbles lying around, he selected one and started sculpting and didn't stop till he heard the faint sound of the payal that was approaching him.He turned to see that ammaji had come to announce dinner and he obeyed immediately and got up. There was an added person in the hut. He hadn't seen her before. She looked up at him from where she was sitting and then continued making chappatis.

" Aaj chaar logon ka khana hai bataya kyu nahi maa?", she said not looking at him.
" chup kar, beech mein kitni baar kaha hai bolte nahi, upwaas hai mera aaj", ammaji said, flushed at her daughter speaking in the presence of a bare chested man.
" aap ko koi takleef toh nahi?", he asked looking at ammaji.
" nahi nahi beta...aap.. aayo na...baitho, kakaji bas aa rahe hai", ammaji said and shot her daughter an angry look.
Ammaji couldn't decide what to do, her son was out of town, so she couldn't breathe easily with a stranger eating and working with them. She couldn't understand if she could leave them alone and fetch her husband.
She decided to take a chance and left.

"naam kya hai tumhara?"
"Geeta, aur tumhara?"
He was shocked that she used the word tumhara instead of aap but didn't show his face changing and answered,
" Utsav."
Ammaji was hustling back in her sari and gave Utsav a sheepish look as she sat down with her husband following her.
That was all that they had spoken to each other till the week that he worked for them.
They looked at each other sometimes, for a few seconds more than intended and would get back to working again without a dash of emotion on their face. He would look at her when she spoke with firangis and would cringe when they bargained with her for her pottery. She would often come and slip in chai and farsan by his side and leave with her payal singing in the background.

It was nearing darkness when he saw her approach him. The evening was orange and purple. It was getting chilly and there weren't much people around because of the local puja.

" Isn't it chilly?", she asked, her voice very soft and her hands folded. He wasn't surprised with the language she chose, he wasn't shocked.
"Yes, it is. I just came up here to see the sunset. One of the things I love. I assume you came here for the same?"
She didn't answer and kept looking ahead and came and stood very close to him. It was the perfect setting. the sky was turning a violent crimson, the breeze was chilly and pleasant at the same time and she was so close.

"I've seen you work, very passionately. since when have you been sculpting?"
" last couple of years. and you?"
"Since I was a kid and knew how to play the top and the string!"
"Of course...Geeta... I'm a traveler."
"I know that."
"Alright. When do they come back?"
" There's another hour."

"tu puja men toh nahi aayi, kaha thi?"
"maa, main bas yahi, chaute pe kapde see rahi thi"
 She couldn't sleep that night. She played the flute in her head and read some stories. At the break of dawn, she got up and got to work.
She was concentrating on her fingers, when she saw his chappals in front of her and she gracefully stopped. She looked up and smiled. There were people looking.
Utsav was standing with his backpack and looking at her in awe.

" yeh sabse chota kitne ka?"
" 15 rupees sir."
He removed 15 rupees and looked at the pot and her.

" I'm a traveler, who might get lost here someday."
" I know, sir."

He turned away and left. All could she could think of was the talk for an hour last evening while the sun set to light another world. His voice was blending in the melody of the flute in her head. Now all she could see was the undulating clay in front of her eyes.