Beyond The Beaten Track: Offbeat Poems From Gujarat (Heritage Collection)

The Flute Vendor (Umashankar Joshi)

“Four annas1 apiece!
Have a shower of nectar
deluge your ears!
Four annas apiece!
Why not let
your suffocated hearts gush?”
Cried loudly the flute vendor
enticing with a sweet tongue
the bosoms
of those relishing melody
but with empty pockets,
unfairly tormenting the toilers.

The genuine customers
were bereft of music.
Cozily listening to the flute
of amorous words
were those
speeding in cars.

“Four annas apiece!”
And despite wandering
no one bought
and the burden of the bunch
on his shoulders
diminished not.

“Four annas only!
Buy and revel
day and night
in heavenly melody!”
“Four annas each?”
“Sell for an anna.”
“No sir, no.
Will return to my village
though they remain unsold.
This is no firewood stock.
Four annas each.
Only at four annas apiece.”

Turning back, he picked
a nice one from the bunch of flutes.
In the drizzle of Ashadh2
he too began to spray from his heart
a fount of rainbow notes.

Hearing this live display
a maid from a window peeped
beckoned him with a clap.

Ears immersed in lilt the vendor
remained oblivious of the customer.

1 An anna was one-sixteenth of a rupee. This coin has been discontinued.
2 The first month of monsoon

વાંસળી વેચનારો (ઉમાશંકર જોશી )

'- ચચ્ચાર આને !

હેલી અમીની વરસો કાને !
ચચ્ચાર આને !
હૈયાં રૂંધાયાં વહવો ન શાને !'
-મીઠી જબાને લલચાવી હૈયાં
રસે પૂરા કિંતુ ખીસે અધૂરા
શ્રમીણકોને અમથું રિબાવતો
બરાડતો જોરથી બંસીવાળો.

ઘરાક સાચા સુણવા ના પામે
વેગે જતી ગાડી મહીં લપાઈ જે
બંસી સુણંતા પ્રણયોર્મિગોષ્ઠિની.

'ચચ્ચાર આને !'
ના કોઈ માને
અને ખંભે પાંસળી-જૂથ એનું
થયું ન સ્હેજે હળવું, ભમ્યો છતાં.

'ચચ્ચાર આને!'
લો, ને રમો રાતદી સ્વર્ગ તાને !
-'ચચ્ચાર આને?'
-'દે એક આને !'
'ના, ભાઈ, ના, ગામ જઈશ મારે,
છો ના ખપી ! ઈંધણથી જશે નહીં.
ચચ્ચાર આને ! બસ ચાર આને !!

પાછાં વળંતાં, પછી જૂથમાંથી
ખેંચી મજાની બસ એક બંસી,
અષાઢની સાંજની ઝરમરોમાં
સૂરો તણાં રંગધનુ ઉડાવતી
એણેય છેડી ઉરમાંથી ઝરમરો.

જીવંત આવી સુણી જાહિરાત, કો
બાર મહીંથી જરી બ્હાર ઝૂકતી
બોલાવતી તાલી સ્વરોથી બાલા

હવે પરંતુ લયલીન કાન,
ઘરાકનું લેશ રહ્યું ન ભાન.

Category in Beyond The Beaten Track

Self-actualization

Appreciation

Can soul music be sold? Yes, of course – if there is a buyer within!

About The Author

Umashankar Joshi, M.A. (1911-1988) was born in a village near the town of Idar in North Gujarat. He was the grandson of an illiterate farmer. Umashankar Joshi grew up to be the Vice Chancellor of Gujarat University, Member of Parliament, and Chairperson of the Sahitya Akademi in New Delhi. Strongly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, he participated in the freedom struggle and during his sojourn in a jail he read widely and studied Marathi, Urdu, and Bengali. Joshi was, in his time, Gujarat’s leading poet, short story writer, playwright, essayist, editor of a literary journal, and compiler of edited volumes. He had very little exposure to literature in his childhood, but he had an acute affinity for the spoken word, and whatever he heard evoked contexts and associations that astonished him. He gobbled up literature like a famished tiger when he moved to Ahmedabad for matriculation and college studies. He began to write poetry, and a friend who had been featured in one of his poems got so incensed that he threatened to knife Umashankar! He got fascinated by the cosmos and the histories of peoples. His journey, as he once put it, was one of light and love and harmony and peace. He opined that on the whole he had not found poetry, public affairs, and religion to be particularly different. Joshi received many literary awards, including the Ranjitram, Kumar, and Narmad Gold Medals, an award of the Delhi Sahitya Akademi, and the highly prestigious Gyanpith Award.