17 July, 2010

Brij Ki Raj

In Rasmai, one is so close to the dust that it almost assumes a god-like quality. It is within you and without - omnipresent and omniscient. It can cover you and enter you, grit and dirt, at once making things so worthless, so worthy. It assumes a life, a breathing, cloying life, often clawing, often comforting. It takes on a million forms - slipping under doors, particulate and small, a sickening slush when the clouds decide to wail, a delicate sheet over resting surfaces, intermingling in glee as the wind plays with it, flying higher and higher in playful swirls...

The dust in this part of the world is considered sacred. People bend down and put a bit on their heads, from dust unto dust. Little mud idols adorn the village temple, only Shiva and Nandi; his chubby bull, are cut of stone. It is used to wash away the filth from one's hands. A handful, scrub scrub scrub. She rubs it into the utensils, the grease and grime fight a pre-decided battle. The girls apply it as a pack. Pretty eyes peer through the white masks multani mitti. It is used to cloth the houses, a new coat for the peeling walls, a new carpet for the veranda. And just as carefully, it is swept away, with a stick broom, relegated to become yesterday's dirt. To the swallows on my roof the mud is their home, each little round ball painstakingly made to join the jigsaw. For the termites, its the aftermath of a door well chewed through. The farmer watches the dust fall through his fingers, gauging its moisture for his seedlings, the willful direction of the wind. Is it a rain-bearing easterly blowing?

And as I dusted the books, sneezing every few moments, I looked down at my hands. The lines were coloured brown, as if roughly filled in with a sketch pen. The lines looked sharper, almost more sure. A grittiness laced my mouth and the books looked worn out in the pervasive company of the dust. 

The dust it rises
the dust it settles
it is all knowing
ever changing
the foundation of forts
earthen limbs of 
all powerful gods
a mother's
nurturing womb
and the anger of 
a thunderstorm
it is the pure
and the impure 


  1. sounds like you were describing my village home

  2. loved this one. haven't felt the grittiness of dust in months, thanks to the perpetual moisture-ridden state of this city :(

  3. I can imagine! ¿Como son las cucarachas? (How are the cockroaches) :P



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