Why is it that I go for a seemingly mindless let's-go-to-dilli-haat-because-it's-winter-evening-and-you're-back-in-town-as-well sojourn with family and it ends up being such a disaster? After I completed our ritual with me pretending to get lost once we reach there as my father starts discussing the finer points of 'authentic Bihari tussar bedsheets' with the craftsmen... and off me and my brother, with him royally bored, while I buy junk and bargain gleefully....and I had to see him...
Now I see this man everytime I go to Dilli Haat ... white dhoti and kurta... about 70.. sitting alone... and playing the Sarangi. And everytime I see him... the tears.. and I curse aloud at being such a wuss and dutifully go ahead and buy 5 sarangis off him. Whenever I look at his weather-beaten old and wiry Rajasthani face.... I start relaying out his life in my mind and the reasons that brought him to this city to sell musical toys to people.... and I get depressed.
Why would a man from a village who looks like any other farmer come to Delhi anyway? Maybe his sons are dead, no wife as well maybe... or his land got taken up by someone... maybe he had too much debt.. maybe anything.
Or maybe he's one of the hundreds of craftsmen who come to this mela from their villages to see the 'big city' .... and then go back to tell their families about it. Maybe after we all go to our big homes in our big cars... he watches the people in the mela draw up their shops... and then sleeps in the bitter cold on the ground. Maybe he has no place to go so he stays around in the Haat. Maybe he doesn't even smoke to kill the chill because he can't afford it. Maybe on usual days, he doesn't sell anything because no one wants to buy the dumb things he sells except really dumb firangs. Maybe during the day, he watches television in chai shops from where he picks up the Bollywood tunes to play in the evenings. Maybe he really doesn't give a fuck about the people around him and just likes to play alone. Maybe he just does some ganja and is quite happy.
When I buy it off him... maybe he thinks I'm an idiot or else why would I buy 5? Or he thinks nice girl... so white. Or he thinks.. bad big city girl with no culture, hell why doesn't she cover her face?. Hmmmm.
I don't know which one really applies to him and I would really want to know. And I think incessantly. I think about how he has the power to make me start crying in a public friggin mela. Or to think about a stranger so much. Is it because he's poor? Or because he's old and looks like my grandfather? Or because I really wonder why nobody else would stare at him and just sit around him when they get there.. because what exactly is more beautiful than an old man in white clothes ... a balmy winter evening ... and playing a Guru Dutt on the Sarangi?