The Unadorned

My literary blog to keep track of my creative mood swings with poems n short stories, book reviews n humorous prose, travelogues n photography, reflections n translations, both in English n Hindi.

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I'm a peace-loving married Indian male on the right side of '50 with college-going children, and presently employed under government. Educationally I've a master's degree in History, and another in Computer Application. Besides, I've a post graduate diploma in Management. My published works are:- (1)"In Harness", ISBN 81-8157-183-5, a poetry collections and (2) "The Remix of Orchid", ISBN 978-81-7525-729-0, a short story collections with a foreword by Mr. Ruskin Bond, (3) "Virasat", ISBN 978-81-7525-982-9, again a short story collection but in Hindi, (4) "Ek Saal Baad," ISBN 978-81-906496-8-1, my second Story Collection in Hindi.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

My Village Barber



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The caste system will go ultimately. A hundred years from now, people will find it difficult to distinguish between a brahmin and barber. When the whole thing goes into the depth of oblivion, people will forget all the negatives associated with it; only literature, paintings and other objects of art will make them stay in the memories of the future generation. I can cite the example of palanquin here. We don't use palanquin these days but this object of transport has been immortalised through innumerable paintings. It's hard to remember that this object was once instrumental in degrading the dignity of some who were made to work as the palanquin bearers. In mythology we find a king employing a monk to carry his palanquin on his shoulder! Now, as for the exact historical use of it, what one can visualise is only the romantic dimension associated with it: the newly-wed bride aboard a palanquin going to her husband's place with a lot of dreams, the bearers singing their tunes to entertain the beautiful lady sitting behind the veil.... Some day barbers and brahmins will have to be illustrated in the dictionaries for imparting the meaning of the words. 
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My Village Barber

 Sitting folded his rickety legs
Knees projecting to shoulder height
With his dirty loin clothe sans undergarment
On the ancient bricks seasoned and hardened,
The old man did his brisk business
Month after month, year after year
My village barber.

Blunt razors honed umpteenth over
On the broken slate, the precious vintage
Stiff scissors for cutting hair
Of heads smooth or soiled, grey or bald
Thinned alum smeared with soap dried
Belonged to him as possessions dear
My village barber.

He could silence the juvenile impatience
Clasping tiny heads between his knees
Passing foul wind in cunning stealth
Straight into the nostrils of the hapless child
Raising dreadful screams to intimidate and scare
Yapping garrulous hour after hour
My village barber.

Broken English to impose his judgement
He feigned ignorance of dirty secrets
Shared gossips withholding their source
Agreed and cheered the rich and the famous
Had little time for his poor patrons
Treating their heads with disdain for ever
My village barber.

He took care of everybody's head
In every nook of my tiny village
They took care of his belly in exchange
Doling out each a mound of grains
A due for the hand that did care
A share for the hair- just and fair
My village barber.

Sons and daughters groomed unlettered
For schools modern would make them wayward
The leather and iron, the glass and alum
Stacked inside the box wooden
Had all the answers to his problems mundane
His present was vital, future misnomer
My village barber.

Age withered away his witty existence
A family of five left bereaved
With fashion flew his all customers
To the town saloons at dingy corners
His new generation with their fumbling future
Scrambled the soil as marginal farmer
My village barber.

PORT BLAIR

12-03-1997


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By
A N Nanda
Shimla
10-04-2014
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