श्री गणेश शैली मसूरी के सामजिक कार्यकर्ता ही नहीं ३० से अधिक किताबों के लेखक भी है।
Copyright@ Ganesh Shaili , Mossourie
मै जब MSC में पढ़ता था तो उनका बादी बादण पर एक लिख 1973 में पढ़ा था। यह लेख मेरे जेहन में सदा रहा। अभी कुछ दिन पहले मैंने श्री गणेश शैली से इस लेख की मांग रखी उन्होंने लेख भेजा। आश्चर्य बादी बादणो पर अन्वेषणात्मक साहित्य लिखा ही नहीं गया है
THE BAADIS: THE FLOWER CHILDREN OF GARHWAL
By: Ganesh Saili
I can hear them long before I saw them. Voices that rise clear over the erratic spluttering of our pre-historic bus. Carried by the breeze, the steady beat of a drum mingled with the tinkle of ghungroos reaches my ears.
A smile wraps itself on my co-traveller as she too senses the unvoiced question.
"Songsters, like gypsies you know... like the flower-children of the 1960s!"
"Out in the middle of no where?"
"Oh yes! the baadis are the real songsters of Garhwal."
The sun climbs over the distant peaks as luminous vapours turn wrinkled mountains into orderly, creased, manicured terraces. Fields of amaranth, the autumnal chaulai or ram-dana make the fields blush crimson at dawn as they flirt with playful teasing of the errant wind. The lush green grass has been stored away to fade in clumps of haystacks like blond wigs to cover the balding walnut trees. I am a wanderer here, just passing through this remote village in Kashpatti in the Garhwals.
On the farthest slopes, almost outside the main cluster of the village, lives Girdhari. A baadi, who alike his ancestors is a folk-musician, historian and instant bard. An unwritten law, part of a perverse tradition has it that all artisans must live only on the lowest slopes if the villages. A rubble-strewn path debouches on his simple hut etched into the base of the mountain. A gigantic five-ton slate roof winks at the sun.
Chimneyless huts, which force the grey-blue smoke to pour out of the solitary door. A fault in design? Or is it the barbaric occupation if the land by the Gurkahs for two and a half decades? If folklore and proverbs are something to go by, then it is the latter. "Gurkhyani" is an expression used by the old-timers to describe an impossibility or an attitude where having glugged-down all the milk at night, one were to insist on having curds at breakfast!
On hearing my tumbling down the path, Girdhari peeps out of the doorway, hookah cupped in his hands, rubbing the smoke away from his watery eyes. Seeing the tape-recorder slung over my shoulder, he dashes back into the hut, slamming the door in my face. What's up? Could I have done something wrong? All I have for an answer is a one-legged crow trying to land on a bare meddler tree and missing. Far away, a lonely eagle floats effortlessly in the invisible eddies of the wind.
The door burst open. Swathed in smoke with a tinkle of ankle-bells, she steps out. Ima, a swarthy woman, confident of herself, the main stay of this family and the backbone of its existence. No clairvoyant is needed to find out who had the final word in the family. Without much ado, she gently places a baby in a basket, an improvised hammock and sit down to adjust her ankle-bells. Girdhari too steps out, the hookah has been transformed as if by magic into a drum, He caresses the taut skin with is long fingers.
"Which song would you like babuji?"
One last time, he strums the drum and then the dance begins. Their vibrant voices flow in a crystal stream, rising in joy and passion. The magic turns the plain housewife into a dancers; an inspired one, who throws her head, taps her feet and sways till the very hair on her head seems to come to life. Something more than an electric spark jumps between them and back again.
Is it love? Or are the muses hovering here? I pinch myself remembering that one must be careful in this land of the aacharis, the ever-playful mountain fairies that are reputed to whisk away the lost wandered. A soulful ballad has it that Surju Kunwar, a warrior of old, once sat on a ridge playing on his fife, when the naughty fairies carried him off to their land of eternal afternoons. He never returned!
The dancers look at me. Did they read my thoughts?
The tape-recorder answers not. It is content to be a mute witness to this symphony in the mountains, trapping the melodies of these Homeric bards in the backwoods.
The first song is of love in a land where all young men join the male exodus to the parched lanes of the plains in search of livelihood. In the shimmering heat of these places far from home, memories of the peaceful mountains cloud many a misty eye. Songs of parting like:
"Oh, mountain-swift, you are from my father's house;
Speak; oh speak in the courtyard of my parents,
My mother will hear you;
She will send my brother to fetch me,
Oh, what sorrowful days are here and cried:
A grain of rice boiling along in the pot,
Cries, 'I wish I could get out'.
Likewise, I wonder: will I ever reach my father's house?"
By now, the boundary wall looks like a grandstand. Ensconced atop is a jostling group of children playing truant from school. But they are easily forgiven for what could be a better reason to have a holiday?
Pure envy gets the better of a lean bystander and he leers at the baadis: "yes! Yes! Keep it up you'll make it to the Bombay-cinema one day!"
The dance stops. A cloud of contempt crosses her face. A hush descends as the crowd gapes expectantly. Arms akimbo, she glowers in outrage.
"A crow never changes its mantle! Does it!" she yells.
The gathering bursts into laughter as the bully's bluff is called. The moment passes. The lean and hungry, and slinks up the narrow path back to the village. His grumblings are lost as the next song begins:
"O Veera in the mountains, love of mine,
Lost in the plains for you I pine.
The playful breeze your locks will tease,
While I in the plains, other folks do please.
Your companions will greener pastures find,
While you alone the wheat will grind.
In the hills and valleys deep,
The doves in love-loran laughter sweep,
While I lost in the plains....
Your friends in the paddy green,
While you alone the pots will glean.
While I lost in the plains."
The toddler in the basket raises a shrill cry in protest. Feeding time. In a single movement, she scoops the babe and cuddles him. Fled is the magic and the housewife returns.
"Will he too become a baadi?"
"No! No! Too much prejudice! He'll go to school and become 'something'!
It is time to move on.
Girdhari insists on helping me up the rocky path, past the village on to the dusty road to await the stuttering bus. But I will never forget the dark unfathomable baadi from the mountains or the warmth of his sandpapery hands as he grasped mine for one last goodbye.
Was he destined to be the last of the flower children of Garhwal?
I can still hear the old music pounding and sailing into the sky and feel the mystery of legends whispered to my young ears about the origin of those songs.
I can still recall the dance of the people who believed their way were the only ways.