the roads lost and found…. a non-linear adaptation of bhool rasta by badal sircar : an article by janardan ghosh

The Roads Lost and Found….

A non-linear adaptation of Bhool Rasta by Badal Sircar

Namaste. The story starts with a vocal orchestra… Jhannnana jhanana dhamkur kur kur dham kur kur…dham… somewhat….a pastoral milieu is created to attract your attention to this performance….well sort of seeking your interest towards me the narrator or the story teller…tell tail tales….every tale has a tail, Harek kahani ki poonch hoti hai….and that tail becomes the most important part of the story….so…therefore… please pay attention…listen with thou heart….a very very Indian fable…a parable…after all an Indian can never narrate things that does not have any connection to the land…. None have yet succeeded to do so, V S Naipaul, Nirod C Choudhury, Salman Rushdie…None… total integral alienation is an impossibility…. Your identity is diluted but not lost; therefore all that you reproduce has your essential genes of your nationality. So an Indian story in English….

Now an apology… well my English is not that good, I am a fundamental Bengali…back at home I speak in bangla…my ancestral tongue… my father, mother, sisters, wife all prefer conversing in Bangla…my friends too… but all over the country Bollywoody Hindi is predominant… and my son is in an English medium school… so my lingo is… as you can pretty well understand…. A typical urban Indian language…mixed in uneven proportions of english, hindi and bangla… a hotchpotch …a typical Indian tale in a hotchpotch lingo… but I guess you will enjoy it… and all the more if you participate in this trip of words and songs and music and movements… just join me or stop me or ask me a question if you wish to… it is as simple as driving a Maruti car while sitting on your husband’s lap… so chabi ghoomao gari chalao… cheheeeeeeeee … bhrrrrrrrrrrrr… Jhananana Jhanana jhana Dham Kur kur kur…

Ek tha Raja… ek je chilo Raja…. There was a King… Once upon a time there was a king… I know… a typical story…the same old beginning… but there’s no option… no story begins without a King… I know you all doubt my integrity now… no problem let us refer to the next authority that we all believe in… BOOKS…. books books books …wherein the truth seeks shelter…. If something is not in the books we accept that it does not exist…. even if it stands like a large Blue whale in front of us or like a masjid or a mandir or a bridge or setu…. a more commanding potent house modern man has not yet seen…so let us look into them… our own history books… come on everybody into your history books… kya hooa? akkel gurum…. Kya Sab Raja Ranir Galpo…. All Kings and queens dwell there…. Ram – Yudhisthira, Ashok – Harshshavardhana, Akbar – Jahangir, Napolian – Victoria, Bush Blair Putin, Hillary Clinton, Mush Manmohan Benazir, Budha Modi sab hazir…. Me and you tch tch tch no nahi naibacha…. We are common people… MAAAASSSS… our stories find no place in those persuasive books of authority…. Once or twice on TV channels or the middle corner pages of the local news paper is our Mecca of documented history… which is invariably forgotten and lost perpetually into ruthless bazaar of value and system…. even the half dead people of Nandigram loses its historical credibility when the Chief Minister of the state Mr. Buddhadeb Bhattacharya vows the following new year resolution, In 2008, I will gift the Rs. 1 lakh Tata car produced in Singur to victims in Nandigram. Courtesy The Sunday Indian,volume 2 issue 13. Ha ha ha (spell it) ….

Kahani Chalti Nahin Chorke Raja Rani – Ho Babua
Mene Cholo Isab Holo Itihaser Bani – Ho Babua
Bhook Se Mara Garib Tabvi Kahani Na Bani – Ho Babua
Raja Rani Pie Pani O Bhi Hoti Kahani – Ho Babua

So, Once upon a time there was a King…a mighty Ruler… Emperor… rather the King of Kings… Badshah… you see… he had Seven thousand horses in the stable waiting to gallop across the ocean, seven hundred Elephants in the shed ready to hop jump and fly… and seven into two, fourteen Queens in the palace to drive him crazy, 24 x 7 … what else did he have? He had diamonds, rubies, pearls, gold, silver, silk – satin…. platinum too if you please… computer, fridge, Mercedes and a Jet Aeroplane if you don’t mind…. And what else? Well… ministers, cabinet, counselors, advisers, therapists, clerks, sentries, guards, servants, maids and a court jester for sure…

Jai Ho Raja Rajrajeshwar Jai Ho…
Jai Ho Rajar Chauda Rani Jai Ho…
Jai Ho Rajar Ghora Hati Jai Ho….
Jai Ho Rajar Hira Moti Jai Ho…..
Jai Ho Jai Ho Jai Ho Jai Ho…

So, the King’s son… the Royal child…. The Prince you see… Tall Fair and Handsome…
Handsome…do you understand ma’am? Handsome dear… good looks… sharp features…. attractive jaw line… broad chest… mushy hair… young and fair… like the fairy tales man….or the Bollywood stars… you all know it well… Rajar beta Khubsurat Naujowan… Handsome young Prince….

One fine day the King called for the prince…Hey you my son.
Soon the prince replied …Yes, my Dear father, your Highness please.
Come hither soon…
Now you cannot say no to a King… even if you are spending the most essential minutes of your existence in the loo…no body have ever dared to do so even in dreams… Can you say no to CPIM in Bengal… to BJP in Gujarat… NO… So the young man had to run to his father’s side- here I am father, your Highness sir, what is your command, I shall oblige thee?

Seven into two fourteen Queens are your fourteen mothers. Among them the eldest Queen, the Queen of Queens, the Pat Rani is your own mother who has nursed you for nine months in her golden womb. Am I right?
Yes your Highness sir, you are absolutely right.
She is sick….
Oh my God… sick, unwell, ill, ailing poor Mother, what is her sickness?
My son, she has lost her appetite. She has no desire to eat…not even a bite would she allow…Biriyani, Kofta, Pista, Akhrot, Chinese, Moghlai, Pizza, Pasta, Soup, Salad, sour and sweet nothing at all… bar one little thing for which she struggles and wiggles and waggles on her death bed…
One little thing, what is that one little thing, my dear Father, your Highness sir?
It’s a Fruit.
What is that Fruit?
Oh my son that fruit is not available here.
Just name that place, I shall get it, in no time shall I fetch it for my ailing mother.
Oh my poor child that’s too far a place, too rare a fruit…. Beta Jambusthan Ka Ambufal…
A fruit named Ambu which is only found in Jambu..
…. far far away…long long roads…deep woods…strange country sides…. danger lurking at every corner…hazardous…danger! Young lady, do you recognize what danger really is? …Walking alone on a crowded Park Street on the 25th of December at 12 o clock, …Going to the wash room on the 31st December night in a Mumbai Discotheque…or Traveling in a bus with the conductors alone on a Saturday night…danger.. Do you comprehend it now? Pathe Bipad rasta dangerous.

But as it is… the young and brave Prince chortled aloud…. He laughed in amusement ha ha ha ha…. There you are… Rest a while my dear father, your highness sir…. Jambu is just a three months walking distance…. A paltry little time… and if we choose to gallop on our finest horses it shall hardly be a fifteen-day affair.
The pompous father was proud to hear his gallant son proclaim his valor in true spirit…. He said Sabash beta, Sher Ka Bacha Sher… A tiger shall bear cubs….. No doubt though…. Yet the King rejoices the happening ‘cause man often proves it wrong… a saint father might have a callous merciless son… or a wicked mother might give birth to an angel daughter…. It is all very common in our human race… we know it… that is why our Badshah is in high spirits… Sabash Beta Sabash… save for the queen who earnestly pleaded …appealed in the most sincere moist voice…No my dear son, my darling… Chokher Moni… Mera Lal it’s a far off place… a perilous path… unsafe and risky, you don’t have to go…
The mother Queen said

Jayo Na Jayo Na Beta Raho Ai Khan
Ambufal Khabo Nahi Jae Jak Pran

Mother…. who fosters you for nine months in her womb, how outlandishly cares for you… Nurtures you with her flesh, blood and deepest warmth of her heart and soul… Through out her life a genuine concern haunts her entirety for the piece of life ripped off her body after her nine months of cherishing … how can she push her son into uncertain terrains of life… How can she…

But determined was he…. Zeroed and frozen on his pronouncement Hargiz Jana Ambu Lana Mako Dena Fal Khilana Asukh Bayram Sab Bhagana…I must go… I will go…. I have to go and fetch the fruit and heal my mother’s sickness… The King was delighted and exclaimed Sabas Beta Sherka Bacha Admi Saccha Dil Bhi Accha… your heart is pure as gold…. You have a feeling heart… do not get carried away by these womanly ways of mortifying our maleness… they just know to lament…. Weep and wail…. don’t pay heed to their requests… you must go my brave son… the Prime minister’s son and the Army commander’s son shall accompany you… they are your best friends… And hundred well-armed sepoys, soldiers mounted on ponies… shall follow you….
OK! Said the Queens. OK! Said the women. Women …even now… in the greater Indian subcontinent are desired to approve the man’s verdict without raising their eye brows …..In fact they are not provided with any other option but a feeble yes… sleep with your father in-law said he… lie down on the pyre with your dead husband said he…. Give me only sons said he….I want a slimmer waist and a heavier breast said he,,,, I hate so much fat on my bed said he….. Ok! Ok! Ok! Ok! Ok! Ok! Nothing but Ok!

So Ok! So Tag bag Tag bag Tag bag Trot trot trot The White horse, the Prince; Tag bag Tag bag Tag bag Trot trot trot The Black horse, the Minister’s son; Tag bag Tag bag Tag bag Trot trot trot The Red horse, the Commander’s son. And trot trot trot trot trot trot followed the strong stubby short ponies with the hundred sepoys….

Tarawal Lao Barma Charao Mathai Bandho Pag
Mantriputtar Kotwalputtar Sange Sange Jak
Sau Sipahi Ballam Lie Piche Piche Jak
Apad Balai Jato Ache Bhag Re Sab Bhag

The whole party now marched down the high way of the Kingdom…. The Prince and his two royal friends leading the group… the platoon moved in an imperial mode… flanked by the common people, the MASSSS…asss on both the sides… men were to hail the glory of the prince…. the women to throw flowers… or else ..Ummm (Strangling gesture)… the Kotwal, Commander in Chief had ordered so…and flowers were in abundance … so that none can complain… the Kotwal managed that too…he had a secret understanding of commission with the flower dealers… Commission you know sir? A cliché … the word has lost its charm in our nation with an elaborate use from time immemorial…. Bofors… telecom… fodder… cricket… wicket…education … health… wealth and all that this nation can think or even dream of was put to stake…. And commission was the key player…. an overused mechanism…, by God.

Time passed… the horses and the ponies’ galloped fervently…. The palace lay behind…almost like a blot of ink drop…. City has given way to the countryside …rural community… the villages…. And in villages… No big houses… no broad roads…. no market… no big shop…. no AC…. no malls or multiplexes… no horses…no car…bizarre… just sprawling field to cultivate… virgin land for the government to grab… in that open expectant space there were sudden clusters of trees and dense bushes smelling green and purple with few thatched roofed huts…. the poor farmers’ solace… shelter divine…. Small house with a small door…. One needs to bow down to enter and bow down to exit through the door… No problem…. A rustic poor man… the easy farmer you see has his head eternally bent down…

Uthta Nahi Garib Ka Sir
Chalan Chora Bachan Dhir
I remember when I was performing Bhool Rasta in front of a coal mine tunnel in Bhowra, District Dhanbad… the miners dark and dusty were coming out the tunnel after a shift change signal…. black coal dust on their nose ridge and cheek bones… their heads arched with a burden they failed to shed off in their entire life…. Even when they were out in the open… the murky sky offering enough head space for them, they failed to raise their head… almost like the ape man they were stooped…. but not to conquer… slow weighed down steps…. I could then envisage… a scenic representation of…
Uthta Nahi Garib Ka Sir, Chalan Chora Bachan Dhir…

Bapu Bole Bacha Ankh
Niche Rakh Niche Rakh

Hey child, keep your eyes on the floor… towards the dust… hushed the concerned father.
Why? Why should I look down father? Asked the wide eyed boy…
…You have to… that is the rule… you fool, squirmed the father
Who made such rules father?
There they are the law makers…. our Lords dropping down from heaven…

Raja Ka Beta Kunwar Raja
Jaldi Aja Turant A Ja
Lain Lagake Khara Hoja
Sir Jhunkake Salam Baja

It’s the order par law of the C in C…. you must have heard it…
So the prince, his friends and their accompaniment… rushed into the villege…Tag bag tag bag Sada Ghora, White horse… Tag bag tag bag Lal Ghora, Red horse… Tag bag tag bag Kala Ghora, Black horse Tag bag tag bag trot trot trot Tattu Ghora, flushed into the village… profound dust and dirt in the air… commotion and chaos all around… hullabalooooooooo…

And … there was… Ramubhai fast get some water…. Mansoormia I hope the food is ready… rice dal chapatti sabji curry chiken murga all warm and ready….Laxmi bai get the plates, hurry… Come on everybody he is our King… rather the mighty Emperor’s son… he is hungry and tired…so when the king is hungry…who is there to feed him? Its simple …its you and me man…. Don’t you pay taxes… for everything…. levies and toll… for medicine food road water land profession cultivation and just imagine that even your “sexualization” is not duty free…how? I shall elucidate that later… The logic is simple …the God feeds us so we shall feed the god in return… and who else but the king is the God incarnate…. And the prince His son.

So the sumptuous dinner was done …. And they have all slept through pleasant dreams while the peasants woke the night guarding the sons of the Lord… early in the morning they rode off on their horses… and picked up three young shapely girls from the village… now you see sir the equation is even and straight….. the Prince and his two regal friends make three… so to serve them… to massage their aching body they singled out three robust young country lass… Correct… three versus three…how fortunate they were to serve the Lord…. Fortunate young girls you see…

Fortunate! Mmmfortunate…. Unnnfortunate…. Hundred and three horses and hundred and three riders…. Now how does these girls go?… A bullock cart or on feet? …. But they are too slow….
So the red and the white and the black horses had two riders each…. But in fact… to no advantage as they were left behind…. physics madam physics… when mass increases the speed decreases… and when zero mass… Infinite speed… the sepoys rode ahead, the three sons followed asunder… they awaited…. they rested… and they rode again trot trot trot and then Tag bag Tag bag Tag… the girls returned back to the village…

Return back…. A homecoming… Bas… is that all… do you accept it… is it that linear… simple… I don’t buy the story…. The girls walked back… do you call it walking…their feet dragged on the dusty road… the hip movements seemed disrupted…. heads bent down…. Lips blacked out red… and the bodies … I don’t know…because they never reveal, never declare or complain… therefore the other story remains untold…. What story man… do they deserve stories…. it is only the King and the Queen who has them…. Country girls phew….

No stories…. but few names…. like Deganga… Guwahati… Patna was spelt in dust and tears rolling down those cheeks of the unnamed girls of our story…. Deganga, few politically motivated men dragged a girl out from her house at the dead of the night and tore off her two apolitical nipples in front of her bawling mother. Guwahati, Some well-clothed men chased a tribal woman naked on the crowded street. Patna, three senior engineers in the Irrigation department video harvested a rape of a young lady recruit in the department to use it as a blackmail kit. And….

Well I can see you madam nervous with your sexuality trying to under hear all that I have said now… weird though… I can see my mother… my sister… girlfriend… daughter and my grandmother with her sagging breast… I can….

I can see the story getting lost…. Boring facts replacing the fiction… Are man… where are the horsemen….

There they are…let us follow them….Beyond the village… open fields… beyond the fields …. Another village… and then fields and a thin river and again village and fields and then deeeeeep woods…. As in the fairy tales… the narratives webbed in spinning circles, do you remember the thrill of those deep woods we imagined on our bed? Wild and desolate….

Bhari Jungle Sunsan Bhari Jungle Sunsan
Bhari Jungle Sunsan Gacher Dale Hanman
Harne Daure Chiria Bole
Ghorsawar Sab Samhal Ke Chale
Dilme Andhar Hairan Bhari Jungle Sunsan…

The prince calls… Savdhan, Alert… the minister’s son hollers… Bachke, Careful…. the Commander’s son screams… Hoshier, Watch out…. the sepoys yells in unison Samhalke, On your guard… Savdhan… careful… alert… Samhalke… watch out…. on your guard…hoshier…bachke… savdhan…. watch out…

And they yelled and shouted and cried and screamed and called and went into the deep forest… the prince ran in a direction and found himself lost… then the sun had set… it was dark… night was in… he cried Savdhan…. on the alert… savdhan… savdhan…. No body answered… hoshier… Kaho Tumlog… speak out you folks …where the hell are you? No answer… nobody calls back… the King’s son…. the prince is alone… deep dark forest…. in the night… All by himself into his ‘onlyness’… scampered hither and thither searching….

Search is the journey we start on the day we pop out of our mother’s womb… Shady night is the ignorance…. and then we try so many calls … so many cries… so many places… positions… relationships….

I too tried … Badal Sircar was a ‘stumble on’ with so many surprises for me…. his politics… theatre… body policy… words…. Poetry… all wrenched a queer understanding into my constitution… grooming my disposition…. Spirituality… the Vaishnava culture of performance was the other influence… all was mixed and matched… some said avant-garde… some said radical … the truth is that my personal theatre was born… in front of a coal pit…. Among non-theatrical miners…. Dark and deep….

Sada Ghorar Tagat Khatam
Rajaka Betar Nikla Dam
Na Mile Khana Na Kuch Pina
Kaise Milega Garib Bina
Andhar Din Se Andhar Rat
Andhar Rat Andhar Rat (drink some water )

Oh! My god the darkness spent… eastern sky is almost lit… can you see the golden hue ma’am… there… the sun is all set to rise… Oh! I am sorry… the dreadful night is over… the Prince still wide-awake…. the sword bare and shining in his shivering hand… eyes red… no sleep you see…. Aching body… the white horse lay dead… no food… no water to drink… the tired and thirsty animal died… so the prince with his open sword in his hand… dirty clothes…. Stubby chin… no shave you see… he walked through the thick foliage… he was very thirsty… you see… King is God… King is Lord… yet… they too need water to drink… you see… I know you can’t see ….

The prince also failed to see… food on trees and water in creeks and ponds…

But three days later… he discovered them afresh… as it was in the beginning of the creation… Oh! Fruits that I have on my dining table actually grow on trees… water that I drink comes from the river…. Oh I knew it, but I never realized it…. We know a lot of things but realize only a few…. The prince ate the fruits and drank water from the pools of nature, slept on the tree tops…

Days passed… nights passed… he kept on searching the road back home…. Forgot Ambu Fal…. forgot Jambusthan… forgot about the ailing mother… he just hunted for the path he lost, to return back home…. Home, you understand Sir, Ma’am…. Home is not father… mother or siblings for sure… home is good food, soft bed, warm clothes…. Any way… he searched.

Plato… Homer… Sophocles…. Newton… Einstein… Galileo…. Nachiketa… Satyakam…. Vedavyas…. Nanak…. Meera…. Chaitanya… Vivekananda… Tagore… all did nothing but searched…. Badal Sircar himself searched…. in this play….

And lo… he noticed… I mean the Prince; he saw a piece of clean land among the green bushes and trees…. Sunrays filtered through the leaves… a small hut and a well….

Anybody home?
Nobody answered… the door was open… no one was in there… few utensils… a simple bed… a few cheap clothes…. a poor man’s hut…

The Prince drank water from the well and slept under the shade of a tree in front of the house…. And he dreamt…. Dreamt of all the roads that lead to the palace… highways… city roads…. streets…. lanes and even the dusted village pathway…. He dreamt of mouth watering food… fresh fruit juice… the best wines and soft cozy beds…. Relax, you son of the Lord… sleep… rest a while…. Seven days and seven nights… no proper rest… at all… he slept for long hours… sweet dreams slowly disappeared and he was awake… he opened his eyes…

Who is this… dark and brawny young man…. A piece of loin cloth around his waist… naked torso… naked feet…. An axe in his hand… pieces of wood on his side… a brimming smile on his face… a glow in his eyes…. A sturdy young lad… he stood…

Who are you? Said the lad.

Holy cow… a fool indeed…. How come you don’t know him… further more how dare you ask him… he is the prince man….

The prince was annoyed and he blasted at him… You ill-mannered brute, …who the hell are you… the lad understood but little of what the Prince said … and with his dewy eyed ignorance answered in a staccato manner…
I am a woodcutter…. My mother is a woodcutter…. I am his son…. This is our hut… Now tell me who are you….
Strange, it is that you fail to recognize your Prince… your King’s own son…
I am your King…
King! Repeated the lad with the greatest astonishment possible on a rural unmasked face….
Shit man! He even doesn’t know who a King is…
Ok , let me go slow… What’s the name of this place?
Sunsan Jungle…
Who is the ruler… the most powerful man… the God of this place?
…..the Prince was irritated..
The young man Laughed aloud…ha ha ha ha… So there you are God…God… our God is the sky…. These trees around us are our Gods… the birds …animals…. Even the insects are our Gods….. my mother is my God…. I am God….

Aham Brahmasmi… I am Brahma… the ultimate truth… the sole message that the Upanishad renders…you see, is in fact a pastoral recognition….

Ha ha ha ha chuckled the Prince… what shall he say to this Jungly… Tell me Sir… Ma’am…
He just said… give me some food I am hungry…
Hunger is a common feature…. Strong and visible. …Among the poor and the rich alike… the peasant and the King…. The farmer and the Chief minister…. The woodcutter and the prince…

And so they had food together…. They drank together and slept in the same bed…. Woodcutter mother returned…. Days passed and nights passed…. Days… Days… Days… Many days… The Emperor’s son….. The prince was now a woodcutter himself… Naked body… naked feet…. An axe in his hand…. Calls the Jungly lad his brother…. And mother to his mother… considers the sky… river, the woods, animals and birds as his god…. He realizes he is himself a true God now… he forgot his royal parents…. Palace…. Food… Friends… all….

He knew himself…. Atma Bodh…. You see

Sunsan Jungle…Sunsan
Sunsan Jungle…Sunsan

So that’s my story for the day…. What? No Beautiful dames in distress…. No Dhisum Dhasum… No love …. No Shadi… Sorry Sir that is all that I know….
And I just know it for sure, if the prince would have found the road back to the palace…. If he would have got common village folk to exploit…to provide him with food drinks and women… he would have kicked the woodcutter lad… cursed the poor mother…. But he lost his way and trekked in a road less traveled by….

He lost a road and found a better one…

I think so…. Sir, Madam…. You can simply disagree….

Sunsan Jungle…Sunsan
Sunsan Jungle…Sunsan…..

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

image001

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s