Do you recall sights that stay back long after you have left? Traveling through the desert landscape, this is what stayed in my heart. The nomadic tribe of Rajasthan also called the Banjara community.
They find direction with the moon showing them the way ahead. On moonless nights they sing into the dark. Their songs are of death, birth, love and never about possession. They are born free and die free of shackles. The entire birth and death cycle for the Banjara community is in sync with nature. The absolutely gorgeous Banjara women are sexually free and it shows in their unhindered attitude towards all that is present and lost in life and in transitions.
Traveling wherever they find a space to pitch a tent and live in a community. Through the torn tents, they look into the moonlight through their kohl-rimmed eyes. Those beautiful eyes have stories of valor, no fixed space to sleep or live forever. Their art is evident on their embroidery and the jewellery that they wear. It’s jewellery made out of camel bone, silver that’s chunky and it’s a statement piece. The astonishingly beautiful earrings, the bangles are always up to their elbows with tattoos around their strong arms and face.
I often wanted to understand what makes them so secure in spite of not understanding the concept of what makes urban folk finish their lives in an endeavour of tirelessly seeking security. A home with loans, a car, a better lifestyle with every passing year. Yet all urban souls want to be free. Every conversation I have with 40-year-olds and sometimes younger is they want to run away from the daily grind of a harsh city life. The narrow walls of their home just swallow them up over the years. I find myself every now and then dreaming of a life away from this hustle bustle into a small hill station. Where my identity is just me and my longing for life itself.
I met Rajjo from that tribe of the Banjara women. She was shamelessly sexy and knew it. Her slim waist was held with a ghagra and her backless blouse was invitingly showing her dark smooth back. Her hair unclean, her eyes filled with stale leftover Kajal. I smiled at her. She smiled back at me with such greed. I found that intimidating yet was being pulled into her absolute carefree abandon. The unclean hair was tied back in a braid with a mangtikka. I told her I loved her jewellery. She said she loved my watch. Her eyes shining with greed and like a seasoned thief who knew how to steal hearts and spit into the face of doom.
Rajjo squinted into the sunlight and said you give me your watch and you can get my earrings. Even before I could react her hands were outstretched. I knew Rajjo has negotiated her entire life with lives, hopes, and desires. Yet she stood all aware of her sexuality and youth.
I took off my watch and she gave me her earrings. We exchanged a bit of our souls in that transaction. I was seeking abandon. My ankles were chained by unmet wants and attachments of my material world. And she was free from any attachment to space or identity of a place. I asked her if I come next year again, on this Jodhpur’s blue-walled wilder side of life. She shrugged her shoulders and said “give me your earrings also”. I was smiling with ease, she continued to ask for more and more. I took them off and put it in her hands. Shamelessly, she put them in her pouch without looking at me. I knew I can never be this gypsy soul seeking more and more without ever delving deeper.