It is hot in Barmer. My right cheek has swelled. Ulcers recognize heat. I am staying with amma here, a Bhopa. Last night we decided to attend Pabu ki phad. Happens rarely now. A local god. Reincarnation of Laksman. Bhopas sing and dance for Pabu. For two nights Bhopas from all across the region had come to sing and dance reciting Pabu’s story. Anada Ram was the most prolific Ravanhatta musician. He died 33 years ago. His wife, Amma never sang after that.
I am here to document her son. He never learnt Ravanhatta. He wanted to be an actor. He dances for tourists coming to Jaisalmer in winter season. I have known him for eight months now. There were many other dancers from the community yesterday. Veer was going to show me one of his acts dancing on the mirror glass with fire in his mouth. He does not dance in the community. He is ashamed.
I was awed last night. So were six hundred people. He got cut but still kept dancing. His blood leaked like water from a tanker on road. A long night ride to Barmer medical hospital on Hero Splender. Beautiful ride. Many stars. Inside: Two men had jumped from the roof together, as they told. I cant see one- others are talking about him. Second one is quiet, looking into distance. His chest crushed, Veeru told me he will cry tomorrow. Other four arrive. Car – truck accident. I came out. I dropped Veer back home. Amma and I decide to ride back ten kilometers to the village where music was still playing. It got cold. Thanu Ram jee started singing. Amma told me it is Khel gana. The song from the playground, in which gods play. Then she left. I slept soon there afterwards.
As the sun went down, every evening in Jaisalmer’s Registan guest house, Manganiyar’s got together with two beautiful dancers webbing a performance each night filled with stories and humour, folk songs, jugalbandi of Khartaal and Tabla and a show presented by Virendra who turned phoolmati each night to dance, to give a performance one doesn’t see anymore even in villages and across many tribes.