Of Cinema Bands

Someone has said it beautifully, ‘children are beautiful because they possess something that we have all lost – the quality of innocence.
Of Cinema Bands

Someone has said it beautifully, 'children are beautiful because they possess something that we have all lost – the quality of innocence.' Innocence, with age, does evaporate like ether, nevertheless remembering the innocent moments of childhood often brings warmth to benumbed hearts and frigid souls. Living on the roadside, my siblings and I loved watching the street outside through the latticed window of our house. For us, songs sung by hardy laborers pushing tumbrels on the desolate street sounded melodious of all songs, our heart rhythmed with lilting tones of candy floss sellers' Butler- Bell and for us every scene on the street was spectacular. 

Sitting on a window of the first floor of our house, one day I was awesomely astonished, when I saw a man dressed in white from top to bottom, with a smile on his face extending his hand to me for a handshake. There were as many as twenty of these tall as reeds men walking on two sides of the road. Like He-man of today, a green poncho reading Cavenders hung from their shoulders.  Instantaneously, I came to my mind they are djinns about whom many has often talked. Out of great excitement, I called my siblings, for watching the spectacle. Seeing lots of children following these 'jinni-tall' men, we also rushed out and joined the boys. It pinched our imagination, how are these men three times taller than the normal men. None of the boys knew the answer, it was a senior boy, who pointed out that they wore no shoes or sandals and had no feet. Out of curiosity, everyone one of us started looking at the cuffs of their trousers and spotted tips of the bamboo sticks. One, amongst children, said they walk on bamboo sticks- How could do this question bothered us all.  Each one of us dreamt of walking on the bamboo sticks, for fear of stumbling neck and crop even the adventurous amongst us never tried.  

For us, there were many more occasions to follow the men on bamboo sticks. One of the great moments of those innocent pastimes that still lives with me bout those good old days when circus shows were a regular annual feature of the city. Those days, the carnivals of elephants, horses, colts, ponies and circus clowns- some of them on bamboo sticks in gaudy dresses attracted us the most. Their pranks made us laugh louder than ever before.  The circus pageant was a rarity once or twice years but walking along the cinema bands- particularly on Fridays was almost our regular pastime. Those days, the lower middle class and artisans could think of football matches and cinema going, as the last entertainment. Temporary hoardings of cinema halls about showing films were displayed at various places. In our locality, these hoardings were atop a pan (beetle) and cigarette seller's shop. Some films fans, unmindful of the happenings around like stargazers looked at these hoardings. In all seasons, even during chilly winter days almost every day, a Tonga surrounded on three sides by film hoarding, with a man sitting on the back seat beating a drum passed through our locality. Some boys ran with the Tonga as we used to chase the swallows during springs. It was cinema band comprising drum-beater, side drum, and cymbal (thal) players and men carrying film hoardings walking through the streets in our locality that brought us out of our homes like rabbits out of burrows. My mates and I often frolicsomely followed these cinema bands from one roundabout to another……  

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