Some years back, while I was striving to cope with insomnia, a strange idea sprang to my mind. That, I should write my memoirs, particularly about the early life spent in a small village. In order to put this idea into practice, I started thinking about it seriously.
Going down the memory lane, I began to refresh my childhood memories. And to my utter surprise, there was a huge influx of memories. I started jotting down everything that came to my mind. It was a delightful recollection of my formative years spent in the lap of nature, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. I felt as though I was re-living my life. For the time being, my current existence had been relegated to insignificance. What a nostalgia that was!
I kept on writing and writing for the next many days. I wrote about my birth, my parents, family and friends, schooling, games, and sports we would play in our childhood. I also composed my recollections about the village life, the people, and the places.
While writing my memoirs, the images of a few eccentric personalities also flickered in my mind. Owing to their idiosyncrasies, these persons were strangely peculiar in their own ways. I can never forget them since their memories are etched in my heart. Hence, I had to devote an entire chapter of my autobiography to these special guys.
Here, I would like to introduce you to one such special character.
What a simpleton he was! There were many interesting stories associated with that guy. He was a lively person. He was Kumhar by caste and owned many donkeys. The donkeys were used as beasts of burden. They (donkeys) very much served the purpose of the ‘transport’ and Damchoo was thus the ‘transporter’. This was their family business and they were involved in the said business for centuries.
The number of donkeys determined their wealth. The more donkeys they had, the more wealthy they were considered to be. And Mr. Damchoo had many donkeys and was a rich man indeed.
Perhaps living with the donkeys day in and day out, he too, sometimes behaved like the donkeys. This donkey-like behavior on his part had given birth to many side-splitting stories. One of them was widely rumored. It goes like this:
Once he was watching a Punjabi movie on VCR. As is common with the Punjabi films, there was a rain scene in the movie. Seeing the rain falling, he stood up at once and said running, “The paraphernalia of my donkeys is lying open in the courtyard. It might get wet in the rain”. Saying that, he immediately rushed to his house.
The people sitting there forgot about the movie and literally laughed their heads off. This was the height of naivety, rather his stupidity. What an ass he had made of himself!
Once his services were hired by us for bringing wheat home from the fields. It was a very hot and humid May day. When he reached home and unloaded the donkeys, he was offered refreshing lemonade.
I was asked to serve him the water (lemonade). It was in a big silver bucket. I was ladling water into the steel glass and he was drinking it with joy. When I took the ladle for the second time for refilling the glass, he got impatient. He took the ladle and glass from my hands and put them aside.
He then lifted the bucket up, brought it near his mouth, and started drinking water directly from the bucket. Lo and behold! he guzzled the bucketful of lemonade in the twinkling of an eye and left me dumbfounded and flabbergasted.
I was looking at him with my mouth wide open in disbelief. Was he an ass or a man, I could not decide. In fact, I too was very fond of lemonade and was impatiently waiting for my turn to taste it. But there was not a single drop left in the bucket. I was much disappointed but I couldn’t do anything except curse the man sitting beside me and this I did profusely.
Now many years have passed since the incident happened but it is still afresh in my mind. Whenever I drink lemonade, Damchoo’s face flickers in front of my eyes. What a strange fellow he was! I don’t know whether he is alive today or not but his image of drinking water from the big bucket is permanently etched on my mind.