“ Six pence for a beautiful child, eight for a lovers mind, seven for a pretty bride” , the old gypsy lady goes on muttering, sometime to the crowd and a bit more often to herself. Mamma says they kidnap little kids away, for their gang, dress them in red blue yellow patches you see that old lady, wearing now, teach them songs, take them away to towns all over the world, make them sing songs you are hearing the old lady singing now, and all such fables in a hushed terrified tone, so yeah, I’m not supposed to chance around her, not anyhow.
The honking of bus could be heard now, and I rushed in , not taking a second’s time and there sat my friends, classmates, once again the place I am “supposed to” be. The winter isn’t yet anymore modest, not even the unbearable kind, jostling to my seat the bus took off, and once I left her saying “seven pence for a pretty bride”. It wasn’t long since I felt the November breeze in my face, and the lady and her song was soon forgotten. Until I was on my way back home again, stepping down the bus, I see her, in the opposite lane, the sun is shining now, the typical afternoon scorch even at winter, that made me bother less, about that lady, the ice cream vendor, the slum children or anything else I saw and I heaved my way home, with heavy school bag, a severe headache I always get in winters because of this naughty breeze, nothing much significant for a day. And the next day was exactly same, and the day following and the day following, and I had learned almost all of her songs now ( would come handy if she kidnaps me away with her).
But today was different, with the winter break starting in some five days time, my bag a little less heavy, I finally hear a migrant bird variant chirruping, I know for sure, it is a migrant, this song typical to winter, they have come, the winter break song, they have come, and what added on, was “ eight for a lovers mind, seven for a pretty bride” , it made me wonder, for the first time. It isn’t too much past the daybreak, yet, some maidens, millers have all gathered , not quite many, yet enough for anyone to spare a glance as in something is out there.
She is , as one may say, one of the million shrinking population of nomads, you would chance often enough here, in winters of course, when people have less to do, more to waste, a typical lethargic and celebration mood I know no reason for. She was a fortune teller that promised good fortune in case you are in short of it, in return for bucks, a business advertising her own business, interesting enough a strategy. It is quite like getting into beauty parlour for a haircut but they brainwashed you so devastatingly that you could not do off without facial spa, waxing and manicure.
Then the most usual honking, my rushing in, driving off , breezes , but we weren’t allowed to open the windows anymore, this time she weren’t singing when we left, a women’s palm on her hand, or perhaps it’s this glass panes shut close that blocked every sort of sound. When I stepped down the bus later that afternoon, no , I didn’t walk down, I stood, the lady, she’s just in the opposite lane of the road, did she notice me now? Her fingers, are they up to some gesture? Is she beckoning me? Is her eyes shinning? Maybe she would kidnap me, if I crossed the, road, to the other side, there’s no heavy traffic today, and I crossed it.
I was absolutely clueless, as what to say. She beckoned me, but maybe, that’s because she saw me staring. To my surprise, she didn’t speak. Took her flute out her ragged bag, and played, bihag ,as far as I could understand. In all these month, I haven’t heard her playing the bamboo flute, and holy hell, I should be terrified. Why did a nomad call me and start playing, without a word? Why am I freezing? Why are the migrant songs disappearing, all in a haze, then her song, it faded too, like reverberating daylight in November spruces. I walked away, yeah, just like that, without a word, when I looked back before the hairpin turn would make it all disappear into obvious cold, she was putting her flute back, into the rugged back with care of a newborn.
Mamma was right, they kidnap kids away, dress them with yellow, blue, olive, and many more colour of colours and leave patches like that in abandoned palettes all through them, teach them unforgettable songs. Mamma was right, mammas always are.
The other time I ran to Micheal’s , it was more of a granny’s-gossip bar than couple’s date. Is this how cafes age? And still bear with people like me, and others that just eats and forgets every cushion colour, every cutlery, or the way they place those ikebana in each corner totally over? The bartender continued humming that gloomy old songs, when I saw his greyed streaks from behind those thick rimmed glasses, staring , far off from divans, through those windows, across the eventful traffic, down the next foot to a guy waving to her girl , he would return, or maybe he won’t. This neon makes it so difficult to make out, expressions of ageing people. Maybe one day the bartender if not me would see him back, old, on that foot, they would cross the traffic, hands cupped together, push those glasses open, not much glancing over the greyed streaks to ask for some Sushi and a champagne.
As I looked back, the bartender wasn’t what’s called gazing, but the Calypso reverberated, on and on . It said stories of deciduous lovers, assaults of time, those forgotten goodbyes. Does he return? Or does she forget what’s waiting? Grey streaks have so much to tell, foggy glasses see little, still stares through and through, fragile lover minds, certain uncertainties, spring earth smells, pine forests, and black probability constants. Those white gloves still waving, within obvious black crowd commotion, they whistle off, apart part by part, those gloves yet waving ,to miles and miles bygone, to what they call , lover.
It was dark, well dark enough for passer-bys to fantasize o’er blemished spotlights far off, beyond all round like spluttered grains, dark enough for me to think it won’t be day again, not in quite a while. But things could have been different today, different enough to make a story about, and it was. The fireflies’ eve. Thursday . The ladybugs would sway up and down with stars on their hands, to fireflies. “Don’t be a spoil sport, this is the last eve, they say these fireflies had light, light enough to brighten everything round, would there have been such ‘eve’s then? at their times? Oh, works in hand, join the dusk sharp at 6”. The thousand galaxies went along jostling , through this tiniest isle, flushing again through hazel mapled lane and were lost again. I stood there still, confused. My forefathers, in what you would love to call “buggies” loved them, and promised light won’t die, not even when their last firefly friend would have faded, with their least luciferins dooming out. But that was way long back, it did darken, they couldn’t help . Then why this pomp, why bothering night slumber, what for? But I had to be this foolishness too, that’s miserable I know. I just banged my oversized coat, and the crowd, bickering all way to the cemetery, with Sirius cupped in my fingers. Some had gelatine, pieces of glass reflecting lights of those who had stars. Yeah, the stars were dying too, what should we carry to the stars’ cemetery ? as metaphor tokens of glow? It worries me sometimes, we never had more cupids of dawn. Every surviving few genus are nyctophiliac as I look around. But those dots of light , those letting darkness appear dark is divulging too. The crowd walked along, some more joined in. By the time we made us to where lights lay doomed, extinguished, I turned back . I turned back to see all galaxies still cradling on buggies, not bothered of age, I knew in what they believed was “eternity”. They knew they had to make it to the next year, and the year after and the years following and forever, or maybe more than forever.