Amrusha Dalvi

From PhalkeFactory

It was a very plesent morning. A monday in Karachi was never like this before it was a sunny day and my mother was busy preparing jalebies in the kitchen .Oh! the aroma made me hungry,my brothers had gone to a gurudwara just adjacent to our house as their was no other temple nearby .

We were a very happy family, my father was a hardcore brahmin and a regular follower of gita vedshastras and puranas he used to wake up at 4.00am and did gitakatan with a bare back he was a extremely respected and a rich man of our village . Our village was named after some pakistani navy merchant ABDUL RAHMAN ASIFALI KHAN .Our house was in a narrow lane which later opened into a varanda .We were the only maharashtrians in the area as most of them who stayed their were Muslims or Sikhs.

But, what did i know ,that this beautiful scene in front of my eyes was soon going to turn into a ugly and a killing one?It was a partition movement which was taking place which forced the Hindus to immigrate to India and the Muslims to Pakistan. Hence we were the first ones to be asked to leave our place.On this same beautiful day some of the Muslims of the nearby area came in with huge choppers and knives, but like a gods messenger a tangawala [horse carriage caretaker] saved our lives.He was a Muslim and told his fellow mates that, if they wanted to kill us they had to walk pass his dead body first, then he put my family in his tanga and speeded up to the railway station. We were all very scared and i were brutally beaten up the blood flowed down my forehead and stained my dress .At last we reached the station the atmosphere here was very sad.

And when i turned around, i saw a mob approaching us with choppers and knives, it was then my father asked us to get into the train hurriedly and we followed his instructions immediately. The train was very crowded. It reminded me of rahman chacha’s chicken shop where a hundred chicken were stuffed into a small cage .My heart pounded faster and sweat tickled my body, the air suffocated me and almost made me unconscious, now the crowd started to move and we got a little space. we had to spend 2 nights in the train : we were carrying nothing along with us in this long journey ,hence when the train stopped at one of the stations we managed to get bread and butter .And finally on the third day, we managed to reach our destination - BOMBAY . We were waiting at the Victoria terminus VT station near a tea stall having tea and some wafer biscuits.It was raining outside the VT station heavily and the air had a aroma off jalebies oh!it reminded me of karachi and that beautiful monday morning. It was then that from the dark I saw a small figure approaching towards me. He was a small boy of 9 to 10 yrs, he was separated from his family. He asked me, weather I had seen his relatives anywhere?

He seemed to be from a good family as he was wearing clean and decent clothes and had a bag on his back .His knee was injured and blood dripped down may be he must have banged into something. My mother and I consoled him; in a meanwhile his father approached us and gave him a fatherly hug. He thanked us for taking care of his child; he then told us that he had come to Bombay as he had got a job in the Wilson College as a Sanskrit professor. We didn’t have a place to live nor did we have enough money to afford one although land was very cheap some 4 to 5 annas. Hence we had to move into a one room kitchen apartment somewhere in the interiors of kolhapur, which was affordable to my father. it was the worst of our lives, to make things worse my father fell terribly ill he was detected of having high jaundice due to which he could not recover and took his last breath in my lap.

Now my pillar was brutally broken, as my father was no more my mother was completely devastated and we shifted to Bombay as she did not want to live with those sour memories.

Imidiately as my father passed away my mother started working to support our family .She started working with a rich family, she looked after their kids like a caretaker. They helped us through many financial as well as emotional crises.

TWO YEARS HAD PASSED AWAY NOW my mother was old and tired and me 18. She did not do the job anymore hence ,I was the only support of my family and their only source of income.Now inorder to concore my dreams and keep my family happy i had to start earning and was in search of a job, which was partime one cause I wanted to continue studying along with it.But to find such a job was very difficult, initially i started doing bootpolishing as a partime job but it did'nt earn me much nor pleasure come my way.Hence my hunt for a new job began for which i told many of the known people about but none paid me heed .one day i walked down from mahalaxmi to dader asking all the offices for a decent job.At last tired i went to a vachanaalay[public newspaper library]and searched in 'The Times' classified section, where i found a job suting my time and financial aspects it was a job as helper to a artist to maintain his studio and as the timings, suited with my timings I decided to do this job .His studio was at Kalbadevi it was a big studio with a big balcony at the side .I used to help him to maintain his studio. I always observed him while working; I loved the way he squeezed a red on a wooden plank, later with a hairy brush mixed it.A With the rhythm on the canvas ,the movement of brush over the canvas tickled me. It was very beautiful. I was so impressed by it that I also collected some of the scrap papers and cheap pigments and tried to imitate him, and left the papers at the studio. When I came back the next day he asked me about it and insisted on my joining THE JJ SCHOOL OF ARTS.

Hence I made up my mind and entered jj with lots of hopes, aspirations & my eyes full of dreams and hence could not observe manny - manny things in and around jj .

I felt that there was a entire new world which awaited me, when I entered JJ. My heart started to beat with double the speed and nervousness creeped over me, but then too this atmosphere looked familiar to me , I did not feel lonely at all. I took my gods name and sat to give my exam, they were very difficult and I thought that I will never be able to get over them, but still hoped for the best to come towards me.

A month later the results were to be declared, hence I entered jj with a heavy heart as was not expecting a positive result but, to my surprise I passed with flying colours, I was very happy and my excitement had no boundaries. Now I was extremely hungry and thirsty but this was not the normal hunger and thirst, it was unique.It was unique from the ordinary world,and it could be satisfied only by absorption of art.

Days passed by. I was waiting for my world to open its doors for me. The day arrived and I left for college with the necessary equipment. I reached VT station by bus and then walked my way towards JJ. On my way I saw a bird with a broken wing that was trying to take on the sky, but it was only after many efforts that he managed to get on to his destiny. I felt as if it was the replica of my life as my condition was similar to it but after seeing his determination I also got inspired and got into my world of art with a new confidence & determination. Here I was at my destiny desire &my dream, I felt as if I had butterflies in my stomach. I entered the gates of JJ, which were huge and made of strong iron, the surrounding were lush green and clean as it was run by the british.the building was very huge to look at and, i merely found myself as ant in frond of a elephant.

I entered my class on 1st floor and settled on one of the bench. Our professor’s MR.TERRY & MR. GREENWOOD came and introduced themselves. They had this great knack of finding talent in their students. They were great gentlemen of ethics. I was sitting alone. That is when a voice approached me and asked whether,he could share a bench with me, I just rocked my head to say yes BECAUSE, as I was constantly observed by my professor, the air around me had completely frozen me ,hence did not have any guts to look around and see how that person besides me looked but the voice felt familiar to me and his air homely, but I was fully into the lecture and the instructions given by our professors. We were left early, as it was the first day of our college. He had left before I could turn around to see who he was? How did he look? I was eager to know who he was, but didn't bother too much because here I was in a new hope of conquering a new horizon.I immediately went to my master [the artist] who had helped me through all the odds.

TODAY, was a second day at college I arrived college early. filled with loads of energy, I went in my class and was sitting on my bench. That is when I saw a boy coming towards me. He looked very decent, he had worn clean and ironed clothes, had oiled hair neatly combed backwards, had polished shoes and had a rucksack along with him. He smiled at me at once, and I accepted it giving him one of my own. I gave him place to sit besides me,he settled, he was very thirsty ,hence had water from his bottle. He then looked up to talk to me, but at that very moment MR TERRY entered our class.He was very strict hence their was a pin drop silence in our class .He was a extremely impressive person, he taught us sculpture. Our sculpture class was fun. he gave us a demonstration of handling the clay. Initially it was difficult but later we cracked it. He was impressed by my work .I also showed him all my pastime work .I went and sat on one of the benches in the canteen and was about to have my meal and that is when the same guy who had shared my bench approached me. He was a very simple guy and also very fun loving, I loved to be in his company. Slowly and gradually we became more and more close to each other, we worked together. Slowly we got to know the other guys also in our class and made other friends. We used to have fun but also work seriously .We had a love hate relation with our teachers as well.

Once we were casually sitting in the canteen discussing our families and culture, beliefs etc. my friend started to tell me that he was originally from trymbakeshwar and had to come to Bombay as his father who was a Sanskrit scholar & a storyteller had got a job in the Wilson college, he also told the incident which had almost taken him away from his parents for some time and was shivering a lot. That is when I recognized him and asked him whether he had met a lady and her son at the station to this he immediately surprised said ‘yes’ . To this reply both our eyes lit up and there was this silence, which followed us, which opened, into a huge laughter……………..

By - Amrusha Dalvi