As Corona and the bats are the rhetoric of the year, i remember one night that came and crossed all expectations of mysticism and fear that will always go together, found me at the lonely town of Rajasthan with Pakistan.
The day was done by the noontime. After a whole day of chasing a manganiyar singer, I finished my interview with an old tribal song as i requested Veeru’s great grandfather who sat under a neem tree looking up at a bird.
I left Veeru’s beautiful white wall, red lined home in a hurry. I was leaving for Tanot, barely even a town, 120 kilometres away from Jaisalmer towards Longewala- and visit Tanot temple situated right at the border of India and Pakistan. I rented a Suzuki bike for three days. and left for the wilderness.
It was all fine till a point but after Ramgarh, the road transformed into something like riding a snake. A snake slithering across, passing through the dunes of the oldest Asian Desert, that has forgetton the horizon between the Sand and Sky. That day the wind blew hard and visibly carried sand on to the road. And at many places gobbled it. I had a feeling that it may become dangerous after sun down but anyways i slowed down and enjoyed the beautiful scape. There is no doubt and i will write it that looking at the sun sleeping in rural Rajasthan is one of the most calming sceneries to grow with. I parked my bike, walked up to the dune to have a darshan of the visible god. It was quiet up there. The wind blew with a motive, may be telling me to hurry. But just about when the sun is going down, the magic that is embracing you in the middle of nowhere, alone; going to a place you know nothing of, a few emotions arrived filling me with doubt. More so in this enormous, remote, far reaching landscape; i felt tiny in the setting sun, in this boundless desert; not exactly because i have an empathetic heart but the dry wind carries the weight of so many stories, that if you are alone for too long it does start affecting your ways of perceiving.
Earlier i had thought of reaching Tanot before evening but after it got dark, the sand made it harder to ride over it. I had to be extra cautious. Few curves were hidden under it like I had to stop the bike and literally light my torch to find the edges of the roadway after a few feet. For as far as i could see it was dark. It seemed i was only light moving. For a good long hour, no one came from the opposite direction or in mine overtaking me. No body seemed to live there after ramgarh, or may be there was no electricity. Everyone and even cattle had gone into hiding.
Almost two hours riding through the dead dark. I reached Tanot, late by any village standards around 9. Definitely not the best place to arrive at this time of the night, and not so strange at the same time if you change your direction. Because there were goats the size of me, looking at me, at my red coloured helmet head. Only one car in the whole town was parked outside that dharmsala- kind of a place. And No body was there. The doors can be heard slamming from outside and sand could be seen flying through the rough empty complex. Goats were still processing my presence. I offered them ParleG biscuits and things cooled down. We became friends. I could now touch their horns. I walked for fifteen minutes here and there trying to find one person to speak to. Breathing, straightening my legs, resting all in all waiting for something to happen. Nearby unbolted doors were beating heavily. The wind kept making an impression. I seemed to be the only one- once excited visitor to have come to this ghost-not-even-a-town.
I saw a big guy in an army outfit limping towards the empty hotel. I followed him. He was the man. After putting up some identity-whereabout questions he gave me a room. It should have been cheaper, i said. He ignored me, stood up silently and started limping towards the room. i followed. It seemed a long, slow, silent walk to the room on the first floor. He gave me the key and U-turned. With a historical screech- Iron gate opened and moment it happened hot air no less toxic than jailed gases of years greeted my face and entered my already blown away system from nostrils and an ill-fated open mouth.
The room had walls. Just that. Blue walls. There was no bed, no chair, no table, no windows. The floor hosted nothing. On left side in the middle of the wall there was a 5″ x 7″ image of goddess Smashan tara and exact opposite was a mirror- same size, half broken. There was an almira embedded in the wall. I opened it, with continuous screeching sound i saw many aged quilts seemed to have been kept from bygone times, stuffed together. My tired eyes and drained shoulders put a fight to take the cleanest one out. One amongst them seemed to have achieved its maturity over time, with all the orgasmic art that had taken place on it. I put it away and decided on the second most reliable one with the color brown. And After a long time the moment i needed, my body required came- i lied down, my eyes stopped at the roof. Once Sleepy eyes opened far wide again. Re-checking the reality. What was it? There was some shape, form i couldn’t figure out immediately what, was hanging from the roof right above my eyes. Investing some time in it- It was most probably a bat manually split into two, was glued like a chewing gum up there. Only a part of its wing and a part of the leg was untouched. I breathed deep. Outside a door thumped loudly. I left that room.
Outside i couldn’t find the man anywhere. I suddenly wasn’t sleepy. I discovered the way to the top and arrived at the terrace. There were many mats already stretched out. I chose one. And lied looking at the dark sky. The nights of Rajasthan are equal for everyone if your bed is outside under stars. And feels like becoming one with everything that is out there. Embracing something valuable that the winds carry here. I must have slept soon. After seeing some bats flying happily.