Gradually, almost imperceptibly, village Malsisar stirs to life. Every village has its Taal, a dry pond with a hard bed.
The first rays of the winter sun light up the tall spires of the majestic mosque in a golden ambience as the Muezzin’s call beckons the faithful to prayer. A little afar, from Meghanath ka Tibba, temple bells toll and echo gently across the low dunes, merging with the vast expanse of the ancient sands. Gradually, almost imperceptibly, village Malsisar stirs to life. Just outside the village, a few black bucks nibble unconcernedly at the remnants of vegetation, watched quietly by pirouetting peacocks resplendent in their multi-coloured plumes.
In the countryside stretch low, rolling sand-dunes, criss-crossed by numerous camel tracks passing through the inter-dunal valleys, euphemistically called semi-desert terrain by the Army.
The dunes of sparse vegetation run from the north-east to the south-west as the wind blows across them, with the knuckle’ ends in the northeast rising steeply upto 20 to 30 metres above ground and then gently sloping towards the southwest in a series of ‘fingers’. Every village has its Taal, a dry pond with a hard bed.
Later in the day, a hookah is passed around as the Maulvi and the Pandit sit and chat amicably near the well. The soil is fertile, the Maulvi says, but it hasn’t rained for over two years. If it is so ordained in their ‘Kismet’ (fate) the Pandit muses, it will take perhaps a decade for canal water or a pipeline to reach their village. Every year we do a Maha Yagna (Great Sacrifice), he says.
The village women make a beeline for the well-clad in gorgeous ghagra cholis, their faces covered by bright, brocade-lined Orhnis (veils) flaunting exquisite silver and gold ornaments. Red, orange, yellow and mustard mingle brightly with maroon and purple in their clothes, colours of joy and of celebration of life. They giggle and interminably chatter to exhibit their vivacity and cheerfulness, quite in tune with their bright clothes.
It is another world. this semi-desert terrain of northern Rajasthan. A world touched only in passing by the 20th century; an intricate culture still intact. A world of simple joys, in harmony with Nature and at peace with itself.
Far, far away from all our ‘isms of cities.