“ 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.