The story of how "Reveries of Rathore" came to be
Met an acquaintance recently. Perhaps, he can be designated as a friend now, both having known the existence of the other for almost five decades, and having met on five different occasions time-spaced far apart, during this period. The one that would qualify as the longest of these meetings would be when we played cricket in our early teens, in an unfenced, dusty, and government-housing-lined ground at Delhi over a few days, in the winter of 1969. I was visiting my first cousin and his family on a vacation at the time and our man in focus was my cousin's classmate and buddy. Subsequent decadal meetings would have been for a few minutes each, exchanging pleasantries. The latest in this series happened in October 2017 at my cousin's son's wedding. It lasted for more than a few minutes. No longer pressurized by business or service matters, both of us had more time on our hands for a little small talk which centered around our current interests. It so transpired that he was painting and I was writing, for a pastime. Why not attempt a joint venture, we thought aloud. A notional agreement was immediately drawn up, imaginably signed and sealed, and a punishing schedule for project execution finalized and set in motion - all in a matter of minutes, our long associations with the corporate world helping the exercise. Importantly, my acquaintance had now truly become a friend!
He digitally mailed me a set of twelve paintings mentioning that, if at all one searched for a common thread in them, it would be the Indian state of Rajasthan….. And I set to work, arranging those pictures in various sequences to imagine what they collectively told me in each of them. One of those sequences particularly tugged at my heart. So was born, the story of old man Rathore, a common surname in that part of India. Initially, it was a rough outline and as the ink began to flow - which in reality should be expressed as "as the fingers began to furiously tap on the keyboard", the little twists and turns of the story started to unravel. Obviously, there were some yawning chasms to cross, some fast-flowing rivers to ford. I communicated the technical specifications of the situations to my friend and he responded with painted solutions. And the story would get rolling again along its winding path…
Twenty five paintings and a hundred ninety two lines of verse later, the story concluded, sadly but satisfactorily, in an exercise spanning two weeks.