“Do you need a guide?” A boy who looked like seven years old asked me.
I doubt your geographical and historical knowledge.
“What is your age?” I inquired.
His stunted physical growth astonished me. Neither he had proper nutritive diet to fill his little belly nor he had decent clothes to cover his undersized body like a professional guide. Although he would not be able to share something new with me as I have already visited many forts in the nearby area as well as I had a good knowledge of architect, Vastushastra principals and vegetation. Moreover, his accent was ambiguous and a face without a smile. A jhola chhap guide. To support him, I asked him to guide me through the narrow alleys of one of the most haunted forts of India- Bhangarh Fort.
As we strolled, he started narrating, “There used to be the bazaar on both the sides of the lane. The perfume bottle was purchased from the same bazaar by princess Ratnavati’s maidservant on which, the tantric did the black magic after she refused to marry him. Because Princess disliked him, she broke it as soon as she came to know about his plans. The tantric cursed the whole kingdom of Bhangarh before dying. It was deserted overnight.
“As you can see the chhatri (a shelter home/ small hut made up of stone) of the tantric who was in desperate love with the extremely beautiful princess.” He pointed at the far off place on the top of mountain.
As I have already read this on internet before visiting that fort I was much interested in knowing about him rather than about the ruined building, which sang the songs of bygone, was now a desolate place inhabited by ghosts at night that nobody was allowed to stay inside this fort before sunrise and after sunset.
“Do you go to school?” I asked.
“Yes, today is Sunday. That’s why I am here to make some money?” He replied plainly.
“What did your father do?”
“All the time, he drinks tea.”
Further, he told me that he had a big family to support which includes his parents, four sisters and a younger brother and they reared five buffaloes however, they sold their milk to a nearby dairy to make their living.
Instead of him, I was telling him colorful tales, interesting folklore and mythological stories related to the deity, figure, animal or flower engraved on the on the walls of temples built in Nagara style in the compound of the fort. To break the all-pervasive spooky aura, I kept him engage in the sensational gossips on how to explain in detail to his prospective clients so that he could make some more money. Not only I taught him the art of clicking good photographs but also the skill to make boring places interesting with the magic of words.
After the trip, I paid him Rs. 200 as his fees, handed over my pair of gold earrings to him and asked him to present them to his elder sister at the time of her marriage. I was quiet surprised to notice that no emotion appeared on his face, neither happiness nor gratitude but as he walked towards the main gate I could sense that he had a big responsibility on his little shoulders.
Standing under a magnificent banyan tree close to the entrance of hauntingly beautiful fort, OSHO’s words rang in my ears, “Don’t think it as charity but share your things with others without expecting anything.”
Pic : Bhangarh Fort, Alwar district, Rajasthan