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Shiva’s Drum

By Chandrasekhar Kambar

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Baramegowda heads Shivapura. Didn’t I say that Shivapura, which only had mythology, entered history with the coming of the British? The first historical figure of Shivapura was Dyamegowda. He was born in the Gownda clan, whose folk had seen small-time glory as subsidiary rulers under the Muslim king of Pashchapura. Gowda’s people had always got their ancestral lands, thousands of acres of it, cultivated by other farmers. Sixth in this line, Shivagonda, had two sons—Baramegowda and Esuragowda.

Let’s move to our Baramegowda’s story: Baramegowda is neither tall nor short. He is corpulent. Though he is still young, half his head has gone bald. So he grew the hair above his ears very long and combed it right across the bald patch at the centre. He was under the illusion that this hair would hide the patch. But unfortunately, this hair didn’t sit well on the bald scalp. Instead, it created the effect of hairy stripes drawn over the bald pate. Add to this, his left eye was smaller than the right. Therefore, even when he looked at a person straight, his gaze seemed crooked. As a result, whatever he said, people thought it was something mischievous. Etched beneath the straight nose was a sharp and polished moustache. The tight lips reminded one of a sharp axe. Only when he laughed did those flashing rows of teeth appear, and he beamed a smile that mesmerized everyone. He used this charming attribute to maximum effect.

Every morning, he polished his moustache till the ends were pointy-sharp. He kept massaging it on and off to keep it trim. He always wore a rustling white dhotra and a colourful kurta. Four out of his ten fingers were adorned with rings. Around eightish in the morning, he ate a nice breakfast. Then holding a pack of cigarettes and matches in his left hand, and holding up the end of his dhotra in the right, he emerged from the house in great style. He sat on the platform near the wooden gate of the house, caressing the curves of women’s bodies with his lewd gaze as they went back and forth fetching water from the stream. He cursed all the husbands of lovely women who were alive. Many of his caste came forward to get their girls married to this lech. Finally, he married a relation, Paroti, who was the daughter of a doctor called Kotresha.

Wife Paroti hadn’t learnt any of the female arts that could attract the husband. On the first night, Baramegowda was upset that he’d married such a woman. But moved by Paroti’s innocence, deep affection and lack of wiles, he experienced domestic happiness for a few days. He remained under control until Paroti got pregnant. But when she went to her mother’s house to give birth and returned with a precious little girl-child, the lustre in Baramegowda’s eyes and his smile vanished altogether. He was disappointed that his wife hadn’t borne a male child.

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