S. M. Edwardes

A FISHERMAN'S LEGEND.

A friend has supplied me with the following quaint history of a well-known Marathi ballad, which is widely chanted by the lower classes in and around Bombay. Composed originally as a song of seed-time, it has now lost its primary significance and is sung by men at their work or by mothers hushing their children in the dark alleys of the city. The verse runs thus: -

  "Nakhwa Koli jat bholi,
  Ghara madhye dravya mahamar,
  Topiwalyane hukum kela,
  Batliwalyachya barabar."

MORNING.

  "Binishin bar sari juyo guzari umr bibin
   kin isharat zi jahani guzeran mara bas."

We had wandered off the main thoroughfare, where the trams, hurtling past the Irani's tea shop, drown from time to time the chatter of Khoda Behram's clientele; and skirting a group of Mahomedans who nightly sit in solemn conclave, some on the 'otlas,' others on charpoys or chairs placed well in the fairway of traffic, we reached at length a sombre and narrow 'gali,' seemingly untenanted save by the shadows.

There are certain clubs in the city where a man may purchase nightly oblivion for the modest sum of two or three annas; and hither come regularly, like homing pigeons at nightfall, the human flotsam and jetsam, which the tide of urban life now tosses into sight for a brief moment and now submerges within her bosom. Halt in that squalid lane which looks out upon the traffic of one of the most crowded thoroughfares and listen, if you will, for some sign of life in the dark, ungarnished house which towers above you.

A REMINISCENCE.

(Written August. 1908)

About half a mile westward of the town of Junnar there rises from the plain a colossal hill, the lower portion whereof consists of steep slopes covered with rough grass and a few trees, and the upper part of two nearly perpendicular tiers of scarped rock, surmounted by an undulating and triangular-shaped summit. The upper tier commences at a height of six hundred feet from the level of the plain and, rising another 200 feet, extends dark and repellant round the entire circumference of the hill.

The scene of her earliest memories was a small room with spotless floor-cloth, the windows whereof looked out upon the foliage of "ber" and tamarind. During the day a black-bearded man would recline upon the cushions, idly fondling her and calling her "Piyari" ( dearest); and at night a pretty young woman would place her in a brightly-painted "jhula" (swinging-cot) and sing her to sleep. Then the scene changes. He of the black beard is away, and the form of the beloved lies stark beneath a white sheet while mysterious women folk go to and fro within the house.

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