“Ma, how does Raja look like?” Misry asked.
“Raja? He is the most handsome man and wears the most expensive robe. His precious crown is decorated with pearls and gems that you have never seen before. He is the highest authority and everybody obeys him.” Madhavi replied concluding her bedtime story in one go.
“Ma, will you take me to Raja someday?”
“Sure sweetheart. When we go to Dadu’s place I will take you to meet the Raja. Okay?”
“Does Raja stay near Dadu’s place?”
“No. The Raja happens to be your Dadu’s best friend.”
The answer set Misry thinking. She kissed her mother and turned to the other side of the bed, deep in her thought. That night she dreamt of the Raja.
Few days later, when Misry returned home after playing, she saw the Jawans were busy picking up the sofa set and chairs from her house.
“Ma, what’s going on?” she asked.
“We have a Jatra show tonight.” Madhavi replied very excitedly.
“Are we going to movie?” Misry asked thinking of the superstar Amitabh Bacchan, her dream man.
“No darling. It is not a movie. It is an open stage theater. You wait just and watch.” Madhavi replied smiling to herself. It was a long time since she had seen any movie or theater. And she knew no matter what she will not allow Misry to spoil her show tonite.
The open stage theater usually starts late in the evening and ends late at night. Madhavi had seen lots of such theaters during Durga Pooja in her home town. They were worth watching and she knew she had to take care of Misry before that.
So she made a quick dinner for Misry and put her to sleep little early. At least few hours of sleep before the show could help the child nagg less and Madhavi could enjoy the show.
The theater was staged just outside the camp premises in the village school. A huge stage was made in the school playground and all the spectators sat on the ground surrounding it. One side was reserved for the Jawans of the camp. Just in front, a few meters away from the stage the chairs and sofa were reserved for the Commander and his family.
The show began as soon as Anurag took his seat. Just beside him sat Madhavi and Pallavi. Both the ladies were looking excited. Misry was wide awake by the time the show started.
The musicians and the light man sat beside the stage just few meters away from where Misry was sitting. She watched them create the mood for the upcoming scene. The harmonium and tabla played in various scale to create the background music for the show. The light man was the hardest working man. He was carrying small circular thing wrapped in different transparent color papers which he used to spin in front of the focus light to create the necessary lighting effect.
On every scene the characters had to walk a ramp before reaching the stage. Till the person took his position on the stage the musicians and the light man had to create the necessary effect for the character’s entry on the stage. It was purely dramatic for that matter but did the trick which was necessary for such open shows. The ambiance succeeded in transferring the spectators to a different world. A world they fantasized more often in folk lore and mythological stories.
This show was about a prince who fell in love with a village girl and wanted to go against the King’s wishes to marry his love. But fate had something else stored for him and he stepped into his father’s shoes and became the King. Now the question was will he still marry his love or marry a princess of another kingdom to tighten the alliance?
Whatever the end of the story was Misry was mesmerized by the beauty of the prince. The manner he walked, raised his sword, sang for his beloved, everything kept her wide awake till the end. She was so fascinated when he became the king, his crown, his robe his attitude that she fell in love with him.
Till date she had only heard about Rajas in stories from her parent but here she was watching him live. She was eager to meet him in person now.
The first chance she got Misry ran off the house to meet the Raja.
The stage was already gone and there was nothing that could remind her of the previous night. It was the same old village school once more but it was closed for the day as the theater party was accommodated there.
Misry peeped in though the glass window. Few people were drinking tea. It was very difficult for her to make out the people without their makeup and costume. But her love to meet the Raja kept her moving on. For her, Raja would be Raja with or without his costume and it will be a big honor for her to meet him in person.
Her wait was over. She saw him talking to somebody. He looked different though than the previous night. His hair was shorter and his moustache was a thin line rather than the minutely curved pencil moustache. He wore a simple white kurta-pyjama rather than the silk and shiny expensive robe. Misry waited for him patiently.
Soon the Raja turned around and saw the little girl waiting for him. Her drooling eyes were not hidden from him. He smiled down at her. It was the prettiest smile Misry had ever seen before. It was more like “Oh! The Raja is smiling at me!” She was speechless.
“Come here child! What are you doing here so early in the morning?” The Raja asked.
“I came to meet you!” Misry replied shyly.
“Oh my pleasure!” he replied and picked her up in his lap.
It was a big moment for Misry.
She was in Raja’s lap! She was in Raja’s lap? Oh my god! Can anybody believe this?
Now she had a new thing to boast of. Bheeru and Phulwa will be astonished.
“What is your name?” The Raja asked.
With her thoughts she was awestruck and instead replied, “Messy.”
“Messy?” The Raja laughed. “Very cute name. But why do they call you that?”
Misry realized her mistake and corrected, “Er..no..its Misry actually.”
“Hmm. That is you, sweet little girl. Here have this.”The Raja gave her a candy and off she ran to break the news to everyone about her encounter with the Raja. She knew they will be jealous like hell for not getting the opportunity to be this close to the Raja. But she was in for a surprise when she shared her story.
Raju, Bheero, Phulwa were rolling on the floor with laughter when they heard her story.
They could not help saying, “GROW UP MESSY!”
Raja – King
Dadu – Maternal Grandfather Jawans- Soldiers
Tabla- a pair of small hand drums used in Indian music
Jatra – It is a popular folk-theatre form of Bengali theatre. The most prominent characteristics of Jatra are over-acting and extensive use of traditional musical instruments.
Durga Pooja- A big festival of the Bengalis
This is #day4 of the AtoZblogging Challenge throughout April.
26 stories in 26 days. I am attempting very very short stories series with GROW UP MESSY – The sweet sour story of a 5 year old girl. Follow my blog for the next story of Messy.
You can read the other post in the series here