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Siva Gopal Ojha

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Member Since: Jul, 2007

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   Recent stories by Siva Gopal Ojha
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Poison Busters
By Siva Gopal Ojha
Friday, October 29, 2010

Rated "G" by the Author.

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The story of a musical group.

The four of us in the hired car were journeying back after spending three days at my in-laws place at a village in Malda. As the taxi was negotiating a left turn from the village alley to the high road I could see the Sun setting on the western horizon to my right. A couple of minutes back we were at the place where a makeshift tent with all sides open was in place for performance of a folklore programme spanning nine days. Three more days were to go for the programme to conclude. We had to leave for the city without watching the full programme because of reasons, which we thought were more important. It was quite usual. We’re used to according importance to the least important for ages.

I was feeling awful for I was in a dilemma as to whether to stay back or to proceed ahead for the innumerable errands in the city and to bear the burden of life over and over again without any apparent reason. In an hour or so the night’s programme would begin at the place which we just left, but we wouldn’t be there. The artists were performing in a drama in front of the clay model of the ruling deity Manasha eulogizing her supremacy in the mundane world.

Hundreds of villagers, young and old would enjoy the proceedings, laughing and weeping alternately, but we wouldn’t be there. The captivating music played by the concert would take its toll on some of the susceptible spectators when the evil spirit of the deity would descend, grappling them with a kind of epileptic seizure, but we wouldn’t be there. We could go on expanding the list of such happenings that would occur this night too, but sadly enough, we wouldn’t be there to relish every bit of such events. Just being there would have made me happy immensely. But that was not to be. It was destined to be the opposite.

It was seventeen years earlier that I had enjoyed the same performance at the same place. Although the name of the group was the same the artists were different except a solitary and sickly old man who survived the onslaught of time. It is said that the artists who perform Manasha programme, called Bishahari (poison buster), do not live a long life. Perhaps each of the artists partakes of a part of the poison of this world along with their presiding deity in order to immunize the public. In the bargain, they expire earlier.

When I reached the place this time three days ago, it was the fourth night of the programme. It was a complete wash-out because of incessant heavy rains. It started late, around ten in the evening, instead of the usual time of eight. But the spectators refused to be lured into it because the rains dampened their spirit. However, I watched the proceedings because I had only three nights at my disposal and wasting one night because of rains wasn’t acceptable. My son joined hands with others to drain the place of persistently leaking water streams flowing from the top and sides. Even the hanging microphones became conduits of trickling streams of water. The ground below stopped just short of being a muddy paddy field. I remembered everything as the taxi swerved left and continued its journey.


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