Sipna was a very memorable time. Very precious days and nights amongst the oldest tribals of Maharashtra, many artists from various fields.
The residency happened in the last 10 days of December. The days were sunny and nights damn cold. We were many together. Everyone skilled in their practises. There were painters, sculptors, Architects, local artists, farmers, Photographers, Dancers, Performers and also artists from other continents.
We were somewhere deep in the jungle of teak. Probably in some village on the other side of Melghat Tiger Reserve. The river Sipna danced like a snake on water cutting an old plateau. big, small naturally sculpted rocks. There was an old sage. I remember him because in his hut stayed a woman. She was diseased, she said, shyly. She showed us a lump that had grown out from the insides of her thigh. Babaji is treating me, she said. There were three peacocks, a deer nearby and a snake that lived with the old sage.
One day we went on a day’s long walk to see Sipna river meeting with the river Tapi. It was like a pilgrimage. We walked all afternoon. Somehow it became an emotional journey for me, that walk because it was the first time I saw poverty in its most raw form. We passed through many small villages consisting of only huts. Men and women seemed to be working so hard and eating so less that my gaze kept going towards the ribs of a man whom I met in the fields. I made an image of him. When he smiled as I left, leaving and his smile together became a pillar of assurance as it seemed then.
It was the last day of december when he decided to perform. The river had been a quiet companion for all of us. We have seen local fishermen catching different type of fishes at different times in a day.
He started early, just in time when the young sun starts to show up.
If i can, i will not mind going to the village again. To Melghat.