I Sing With You...
I Sing With You...5 mins 174 5 mins 174
" Ae, why are you standing in front of our gate?", Aadya snubbed at the little girl, almost her age, who was standing in front of her gate with her goats.
The girl stood there, unfazed, pushing her locks of dirt-smeared hair away from her face. She stared at Aadya and barked back in her mother-tongue, "Why? Why can't I stand here? Does even the road belong to you? This path is for everybody. And moreover, I pass through this road almost every day- not like you dropping from the sky occasionally for a few days. " Retorting thus, the little girl in a pink frock, the colour of which was hidden by a thick layer of dust, herded her goats towards her home. Aadya, who was petrified of any moving creature -right from a pigeon to a monkey - was wondering how a girl like her was able to be so comfortable with these goats. In fact, she kind of admired the ease with which the girl bonded with the goats and the goats followed her instructions lovingly.
Aadya had come to her dad's village for the first time in her life. She had never seen a village before, let alone stayed there. The entire experience of being in a village was quite exciting for her. The small water- body in front of the house's front yard; the typical four verandahs, known as asoras, built in a rectangular shape accorded her a sense of freedom, a sense of blending with the soft winter sunlight traversing through the neatly swept, wide, rectangular aangan. At first, the newness of the place, dropping in of unknown relatives, and a continuous flow of visitors charmed Aadya, but soon the monotony of the days began eroding the initial thrill. It was the presence of her younger sister and her two cousins which made her days go by tolerably. It was amidst such dry, long days that she and other siblings spotted the little girl in pink frock trying to have a sneak peek at them through the huge, grilled gates of the modest house.
It was on that day this spat took place. Aadya and her siblings found something to break the monotony of a well cherished countryside. A stranger peeping through the gate, unabashedly, generated a mixed feeling of repulsion at a strange, 'not -like -us' girl, and admiration at the independent, carefree spirit displayed by her while handling her goats. Aadya envied the elan with which the little girl in pink moved as if she owned the world.
Next day Aadya's hesitation gave way to her curiosity and she and her cousins went to pat the goats. The little girl in pink willingly allowed the 'outsiders' to play with her prized possessions. But Aadya !! She wasn't made of the same stuff! She jumped with a scream at the very attempt of the goat to sniff her !! The little girl burst out laughing. The girl insisted her to come close to the goats and encouraged Aadya to touch the goats - with some success. Gradually Aadya gained some confidence and went as far as brush the forehead with her fingertips. gingerly. The little girl clapped in jubilation. She asked Aadya's name and told hers as Shabana.
After she befriended Shabana, Aadya used to wait for Shabana every evening. They both spoke different languages. Aadya had grown up speaking mostly in English in Bangalore and Shabana grew up in village learning Hindi and speaking her mother tongue. Aadya spoke good communicative Hindi but being just 10 year old, wasn't exposed to extensive Hindi vocabulary. Similarly Shabana too had limited vocabulary of Hindi, as the only language spoken in the village was the regional one. But this never seemed to be an issue with them. The ever-unfolding magical world around them seemed to keep them connected and inquisitive enough to keep them away from such worldly, grown-up issues.
One day when Aadya was busy reading a book and squinting occasionally at the gate expecting Shabana to appear outside the gate, Buddhan Baba, an ever ranting, god-knows-which relative came. He was the one who felt that it is his sole responsibility to conserve the culture, the language and the prestige of the family. Since the day Aadya had arrived, Buddhan Baba had been reprimanding her mother for not bringing up the child as per the family culture as Aadya was not fluent in her mother-tongue. Surprisingly, Aadya who otherwise would try her best to converse with Shabana in her broken mother -tongue, in front of Buddhan Baba couldn't speak a word in her mother -tongue, nor did she feel like. She was in no mood to impress a grumpy fellow. As usual Buddhan baba was ranting about the modern families ignoring their culture, and throwing insulting glances towards Aadya when she rushed out, shoving her book in the niche in the unplastered wall.
The god-knows -which relative was shocked to see Aadya playing with Shabana. There wasn't anything common in them-Aadya was a city-bred, neatly dressed child, with impeccably done hair in contrast to Shabana who was raw, free, donning disheveled, cakey hair. The ultimate saviour turned to leave the aangan and give another piece of his precious advice to Aadya to learn her mother-tongue. As he approached the two girls engrossed in their songs, he was surprised to hear Shabana singing a song in the language alien to the area. Aadya taught her that song, and Aadya was dancing and singing a song taught by Shabana. Buddhan baba walked past those two girls, nodding his head in utter disappointment.
The adults who are quick and eager to build impenetrable walls encompassing their fear of 'other' and fierce drive to serve the cause of their 'own' culture deprives them of the music which surrounds the world -the one filled with fondness and unblemished with the baggage of prejudices.