Chatting with a friend last night, this incidence came up out of nowhere. This is stuff that you read about in books(and also in blogs these days) and see very often on the screen, but seldom come across in real life. Deserves to be shared with everybody.
This dates back to last year. Me and my friends were climbing Tara Garh, the hill in Ajmer atop which stand the ruins of Prithviraj Chouhan’s fort. We’d taken a route different from the conventional one, and this one snaked through a hilly forest. The forest was deep and astonishingly green for the normally parched Rajasthan terrains, and it was rather cool, trekking in the forest.
We came to a narrow pass between two hills, and it was very beautiful. I seemed that water flowed through the pass in the monsoons, as was evident by the clean cuts in the rocks making up the ‘floor’ of the pass. Flanking both sides of the meandering pass were almost vertical, green hill slopes on both sides. We were far away from any human habitation, and it was all very, very quiet. We climbed over a few big boulders, and negotiated a sharp bend in the pass. As soon as we did that, we were in for a surprise. The quiet had been broken.
The whole valley, narrow though it was, was overflowing with music. ‘How in the world?’. We looked at each other, one by one, our mouths agape, each one more surprised than the other. Somebody was playing the flute in this wilderness! Who could, and who would, come over here to play a flute. But the sound was there, definitely coming from someplace in the valley high above our heads.
With the overpowering sound getting inside our heads and simply refusing to come out, my friends scanned the valley for it’s source, shifting positions from one vantage point to another. I concentrated on the sound, my eyes closed. I do not know much about flute music, but there was a definite pattern to the notes being played. It was a melancholy strain, which seemed to fill the entire valley. The pitch rose and fell beautifully, and I knew instantly that this was a master of his art at work.
‘Look, there he is’, Tarun whispered in my ear, and pointed to a place about midway up the hill. With the cool mountain wind flowing through my hair, my shirt, I turned my neck upwards and strained my eyes. As I saw it, I stood rooted to the ground. I kept looking on and on, and it still touches a chord somewhere as I recall the scene.
A man, a very old man, in kurta-pyjama and a flowing white beard was sitting in front of a grave, playing a flute. As far as I could make out, he was playing with great intensity and was lost somewhere, with his head, highlighted by his beard and a small white skullcap, moving rhytmatically with his fingers and lips. Sitting upon a stone near the green painted grave, he played on and on … and the whole valley seemed to be alive! I stood there, stupefied, mystified and just listened to the old man sitting near the grave high up on the hill play at his flute, until Tarun touched m arm, bringing me back to my senses and siganlling me to move. We still had a long trek to the hilltop and back.
This was one of the best ‘live performances’ I have seen so far. The spot on which we were standing was a two-hour trek on foot from any civilization. Two hours for us 19-20 year olds. And the spot on which the old man was sitting was halfway up a very steep, almost vertical hill. How such an old man reached such a difficult spot in such a faroff place, I’m at a loss to explain. Equally, if not more perplexing is the grave being there. But one thing is for sure, which also makes the whole incidence, and even the music special.
That is, devotion. People play for money, people play for praise. This man was playing for the one he was devoted to. Coming to such a place must have demanded great endurance for such an old man, yet there was a passion in his recital. Such passion, such devotion in such old age! Not to mention the energy and quality of the recital! I don’t think I’ll forget this incidence for the rest of my life.
Sometimes, life brings forth such beautiful experiences, which make it even more worthwhile to live.