Then sun-baked lovers go about looking for nearby thickets owing to a consensual urge for locking arms and lips. What happens next is but everyone’s guess
This year’s Swasthani Bratakatha recitals and Mahashivaratri festival celebrations are over. Sadhus and Naga Babas (naked yogis) from India have already left the Pashupati temple premises upon receiving dakshina (monetary gift) from the Pashupati Area Development Trust infusing some cash to the demonetized economy of the southern neighbor.
Mahashivaratri festival celebrations at the Shiva temples across Tarai and inner Tarai regions of Nepal and India is where one wants to be witness of the commotion, creativity and energy of the common people. People of all ages feel a strong pull to festivals and carnivals. But the enthusiasm of young boys and girls is something very much infectious as they bring about an aura of youth and energy to the crowd no matter how peripheral and small characters they are. They add up to big stories being the most colorful and dynamic characters.
Most storytellers deem such stories too commonplace as they fail to notice the underlying vibrancy. Understandably, many storytellers avoid telling the stories of dung and beetles for lack of knowledge about smell of dung and sounds of beetles. That commonplace is not comatose lost on them.
Rusticity is raw but expansive. Urbanity is sophisticated but congested. To write about plebeian characters are like releasing the words to an unfathomable horizon and looking up to the clouds. To write about urban and elite characters is like hurling the words to a bottomless pit and peeping into it. The urban experience is claustrophobic.
The shepherd talks to their cows, goats, sheep, buffaloes and oxen in the pasture, and satiate themselves with bhuin kafal (mock strawberry) and chari amilo (sour-leaf creeping plant) and natural spring water or whatever is provided by the benevolent Mother Nature. The tillers plough the fields turning over pieces of earth as the birds follow the furrows picking up uprooted insects.
They alight on the rumps, humps, horns and poles of the oxen and enthusiastically participate in the rustic symphony. They chirp, squawk, and croak while the oxen swish their tails and swat away horseflies as the Holy Fool of tiller whistles, hums and sings of winds, hills, rivers, mountains, love, tragedy, union and separation. This rustic symphony keeps reverberating through the cliffs, rocks and ravines even though the keepers of the annals of local governance units never intend to record and preserve it.
Back to the raucous Shivaratri celebrations, the emboldened sun shines on the young men and women turning them more restless in their heart and mind. They go feisty and enraptured upon noticing any girls and young women who bend over wearing loose-fitting and hyperventilating low-cut blouses with the neckline some inches below their collarbones offering a full view.
The rowdy boys click their tongues and push the immobile crowd to the direction of their objects and subjects of interest. Decency is just a word for these frenzied and lewd boys as they lose their minds upon seeing the navel exposing, mascara manic and hot-footing modern girls in shorts, frocks and tight-fitting T-shirts and worn-out jeans.
The vendors of balloon, kite, cotton candy, veggie straws make a brisk business robbing the parents of small children in broad daylight while the chiefs of local law enforcement agencies brag about flawless security arrangements for the festivals on the live TVs before the newsmen. Their khaki-clad mustachioed subordinates patrol the fairgrounds often flirting with the hot tea, bread and donut selling women who promote their business with their kettles and smiles while their henpecked husbands do the dishes and clank the glasses intending to warn their wives against crossing any limits.
The law of comparative advantage comes into full play albeit in its deviated format when the sugarcane juice sellers try to squeeze success out of the business wishing they could add some water to trade more glasses of juice and thus more profit. They are envious of the jalebi (funnel cake) and sweets sellers who can compromise the quality of the final product using adulterated ingredients but don’t face any consequences and any fuss from the customers as long as the jalebi is crispy, crunchy and melt-in-mouth type.
The ice-cream cones help the young girls and boys prove to the world that they have matured enough to lick something carefully not letting even a single drop go to waste. They make a bold statement through this act about their readiness to take on new responsibilities that are bigger and better. An artful licking of ice-cream is one of the universal gestures with sexual connotation. Esteemed and young readers of mine, please don’t let a great adventure slip off your hands if some peer (mostly opposite sex) of yours proposes for an ice-cream date in New Road.
Love and food
How one eats and makes love is indicative of their personalities and cultures. Some people leave their plates and palms cat licked at the end of a meal whereas others leave them unseemly and in bad looks. I leave it to my readers to decide as to who is graceful and who is clumsy. Most people from the East make a lot of noise while eating food but make no or little noise while making love. Inversely, most people from the West make the most noise while making love but make no noise while eating food.
Hence, it’s better to watch out for the plates if you are considering a long-term relationship with the person you are dating. A dirty plate could bespeak of a perennially dirty house, but not necessarily a dirty and disheveled bed of a sexually active guy. Sometimes divorce is a far more viable option than dealing with a smelly restroom, a hairy kitchen island and a dirty sink.
Tangy, hot and spicy chat, chatpate, panipuri (deep-fried crispy crepe), alootika samosa (fritter and potato curry) remain the most sought after items on the fairground because of their affordability and utility. Most boys and girls swarm to the panipuri pushcarts to placate their tongues and gobble the sour and hot mixture that brings tears to their eyes, burns their butt, makes them wee-wee and soil their underwear. But they grind their teeth to hide their consternation in the face of adversity as their innards burn like Australian bushfires and Californian wildfires.
The vicinity covered with rahar (pigeon pea or legume) and bayar (jujube) thicket provides the desperate lovers a much needed solitary haven should the sweet funnel cakes and hot panipuri engender acceleration to their nerve trucks. Their longing for wholeness remains in limbo until they explore the hidden treasures and pleasures. The stupid walking sellers of roasted peanuts often become the catalyst or culprit for compelling the lovers to seek solitary places as the peanuts relax and brim up their blood vessels with enough supplies.
This is when sun-baked lovers go about looking for nearby thickets owing to a consensual urge for locking arms and lips. What happens next is but everyone’s guess. The horns of buses and ring bells of bicycles and rickshaws in the nearby roads gradually fade as they close eyes to unleash their passion. The devotional hymns, Bhojpuri songs, Hollywood and Bollywood movie item songs blaring from the boom boxes go inaudible as their hearts start ringing in their heads.
The intense feel of each other’s hot breath keeps going north before the oh yeah moments of orgasm come to a screeching halt once the nerve truck hits the guardrails of scarcity of supplies. They open eyes to a blue sky and ears to a loud noise as a voice details out lost and found children through the boom boxes.
It’s a rude awakening to a sense of guilt and achievement about something lost and found. While returning to the festival ground, friends and families, they find themselves in dichotomy as to whether, when and how to break the news to their best friends. But the story has already been written. Now it’s up to the plebeian Parvati and susceptible Shiva to decide how to tell their stories to the world.
The story continues. The characters keep changing. So do the storytellers.