May 7, 2009


You open one eye and look at the ugly digital clock on the bedside table. It coldly states that the time is 14:34:32 now. It must be Sunday by logical deduction and putting together the following two facts:

1) I am here, sipping my post-lunch coffee and looking at your supine body with absent-minded lust.

2) You can feel a hangover coming on, hence you must have gotten terribly bottled last night and that you can allow yourself to do only on Saturday nights.

Therefore, it must be Sunday.

All this by opening one eye. Tell me, clever one, does the word 'Denotified' mean anything to you? Does your name 'Alekha Gosavi' mean anything to you, darling?

There you go again, you have closed your eyes and turned over on to your tummy. With your eyes closed, your red spaghetti strap revealing thingummyjig riding right upto where your bra strap should have been, you look very, how shall I put it, like you eat right out of my hand and if I ordered you to, you would take your top off and parade in the street outside, no questions asked. Oh, but I know you! I know you better. In 2 mintues, you will beckon me with the curl of your index finger and then order me about to get you water, coffee, some snacky things to eat and saridon, in that order. If I do everything to your liking and I am real good to you, when I come to you with the coffee, you will smile at me, put your arms around me and let my hands go under that spaghetti top.

Look around you, darling. Do you have any idea of how immensely lucky you are ? Look at your lovely MAC Film Noir lipstick, look at your Hermes perfume left carelessly unstoppered on the dresser, look at your expensive clothes which you crumple up and throw at me when you are annoyed. Look at yourself. Look at your unwillingness to move from one room to another to get another cushion or to try a new pub because our usual one was chock-full of people or to try limiting dinner to a hurried single course. Look at you. You,a nomad? Never.
Would they ever know if they didn't know your name, that even now your cousins roam helplessly without food or education or a chance of livelihood from village to village trying to be true to the Gosavi occupation. Who would guess that your grandma and grandpa went around from house to house, begging for food, and in the evening, put all the various food items given to them in a huge vessel and that entire family including your mother ate out of that? To your ear, Mozart and Himesh are the same. Do you know, your musically inclined family used to sing customised songs for their regular patrons? You must, of course, know. If your mother has told me all this, you must know so much more.

Yet, you don't. Your miraculous escape hasn't touched you one bit. How your mother refused to go around with the family begging anymore after your grandpa was arrested for a robbery, how it wasn't his fault but they arrested him because his tribe was a tribe of habitual offenders or 'Denotified' tribes, how he died in custody and your Mom ran away to some house and started working as a servant girl at the tender age of 8. How lucky she was that the people in that house educated her and she could apply for a nice desk job after a few years! Thats why my love, you,Alekha Gosavi and I,Surabhi Venketachala Iyer can lie together naked, go to Poison on Thursday and Saturday nights and bitch about our workplaces with equal aplomb. We can, because we escaped terrible fates.

You,more so than I. Your tribe forms a miniscule part of a 7% of the Indian population of nomads and that too non-pastoral nomads. In common parlance, "beggars". How the tide has turned. Thousands of small tribes who eked a living out of music and crafts and religion and superstition, turned into "beggars and criminals" by one swift stroke of the Brits who ruled us aeons ago. Nobody did anything about it till now. Ok, they removed the tag of criminals, but still your cousins are known as beggars all over this country.

Only my mother sheds a tear for the Gosavis, she remembers. She loves to think of the little Gosavi children who used to come to her house, play some music and take whatever was given to them with true gratitude. She still cries for the Gosavis and holds up her hands feebly in protest when somebody calls them beggars. Maybe she would be happy to know that I have found a Gosavi. Maybe not. After all, one can explain away the denotified tribes, but how does one explain a woman falling for another?

Nomad, you have wandered into my life.Now I pray everyday that it should be true,what they say about gypsies. That they never steal ,but they take what is rightfully theirs without asking and without ceremony.


  1. i loved this Gomes. This is by far your best!

  2. Hi, that was good! This is the first time I visit and frankly felt very impressed by your writing.

  3. @ Lash:
    Thank you.

    Thanks a lot. Thats encouraging.