My winter vacation days, somewhere near new year, 9 am in the morning and my cell phone rings in its usual rock music tone and with eyes closed I pick it up and on the other side my mamu calls my name and wishes me good morning and I reply him yawning. I have a surprise for you, mamu tells me and i ask him excitingly “what? “ He tells me to get ready as quickly as possible if i want to get that surprise. I create a thought “what can be that surprise? “ But then I leave it to remain a surprise thinking that surprises are always quite exhilarating. My maternal uncle (mamu) is my good friend too. He is 10 years older than me but still our tuning is adorable. We are almost like buddies. He reaches on time and I am all set to get my surprise. He says “pack your bags”, we are going to a village, where we are about to organize a cultural program for children out there. He is a social worker and such programs are a part of his job. I couldn’t say no to mamu and was also eager to experience it as I hadn’t gone to any village for a long time.
“I like the serendipitous surprises of reality.”- Lawrence Wright
And we left for the village. It had a feeling of ‘zindgi naa milegi dobara’. Yeah! the only difference was that we were on the bike. Listening to “The Beatles “, I was in a kind of hallucination, waiting for the terminus. Green fields, playing children, fresh air and sunny weather, this route the day was going ahead. I was oblivious about where I was about to reach.
Sometimes life’s surprises seem weird at first glance but later on they make you realize that they are priceless. I also experienced it.
Suddenly my mobile phone’s signal took a off turn. Mamu said to me that “there is no mobile tower facility in this village, our mobile is about to linger in this no signal mode for upcoming two days.
This was just a trailer, the whole film was about to set the fire on the screen soon. A huge livestock made us to stay at entry point of village for at least five minutes, though it was an iconic and distinctive welcome technique.
A total countryside, altogether different universe in itself, the village had indubitable charming beauty for sure. It took 4 hours to reach there. There was a river and a temple too. Me and mamu went near river to splash water on our face and hands and strolled there for a while. There was a deep silence as it was on the beginning point of the village.
It was 5 in the evening and we were at the house of the head of the village. They welcomed us very warmly as if we were some celebrity. We had our milk and started to prepare for our function.
Mamu took me to the place where all the programs were about to be organized. It was nothing more than an altar. I asked to mamu “Is this the place where we are going to execute all decided programs? “ He replied “yes”. And when I asked that where the public is going to sit? He said smilingly “on the floor”. I was stunned to listen and imagine this. My grandeur of imagination came downstairs from cloud nine to this 50 years old altar. I sat there quietly and mamu started to arrange some tables and chairs behind me on that stage.
I was twiddling and suddenly my eyes went on to a group of teenage boys and girls who were coming together, some of them with earthen lamps in their hands. I continued to gaze at them just to convince myself that it was real. They arrived near us and said ‘Namaste’ to me and mamu. They were those children who were about to perform there. They had their folk musical instruments, made in their own village and some of them even had colorful, glittering costumes, which were not fit for them, might be of their parents.
It was the first night of the program, there was no electricity in that village. Earthen lamps, torches, infinite brightening stars and glowworms were contributing to illuminate the scenario. After a long time my message and wats app beeps were silent. Then a drumbeat sound echoed on the stage. People sitting over there and also standing on the backside silenced. It also caught my attention. And then the program began. Continuous drumbeats and melodiously attractive compositions with some catchy and funny lyrics, folk dancing movements captivated and created another level of histrionics. People started to whistle, clap and even some were dancing. And truly speaking, even I was spellbound. Till now it was a different experience for me but after this 25 minutes of song and dance, It felt as if it was outstanding.
After the program, all the children gathered together at the place and cheered up for themselves. It was wonderful to see them doing that. While cheering up in their half baked and broken English with an earthy accent associated with it; they appeared like breaking their comfort zones and trying to expand their arena. I went to them and said “you guys were truly amazing “.
The night was starry and breezy. The nature here was at a different mood than the city. This experience was something very soothing and calm. There was also one more thing that was running in my head and that was the spirit of those children who performed the art here tonight. I was very excited for the next day to reveal what kind of scenes it is about to bring to me.
Rhythmic sound of drum was again reverberating. All the children were practicing religiously. Mamu was guiding them, they were about to play a musical drama based on kabeer’s doha and his life incidents. I was watching them interestingly. Somewhere they were inspiring me whenever I thought about their circumstances. They didn’t have much amount of money. They never went to any dance classes. They didn’t have exorbitantly priced costumes but they did have that zeal and curiosity to learn the art. They had that feeling of unity and togetherness that they shared together and even with us just in a day. I was also enthralled to see them so happy and contented in such minimum resources. Their discipline was exemplary, their only focus was to perform their best and they were practicing like anything for it.
Program took place and wrapped up. It was as magical as last night’s performance. We went to have our local cuisine to the head’s home and throughout the night almost half village was waking up and was chatting with us. It was an unexplainable feeling.
Out of the blue, my message tone beeps and I realize that ohh! Now I am again going towards the electricity and radio signals. Where there would be horns of vehicles but not the drumbeats. Where there would be electricity for sure but not that light that I saw in those teenage children’s heart.
We were on the way to return home but seriously this excursion enriched me. I enjoyed there and also gained a lot of things, which were not things. Their happiness, contentment and zeal to learn made me awestruck and the unpolluted beauty added to its value.
There was no electricity there but I felt enlightened and fulfilled while returning from there.
Sometimes even darkness enlightens.