A proposal to paint in tribal lands was like a dream call.
Jey instantly agreed to accompany me as his heart lies in the hills and homes of tribals of Jharkhand. Love for tribal land is common between us.
In fact the tribal life stories played a major role in bringing us together. For me it has always been a fantasy land and for him his home land.
Well in less than a week’s time, we were in Jey’s homeland, Jharkhand, chit-chatting with dusky faced women and playing with new born goats.
An NGO that had called me to paint, took us to a village called Jojobeda. A small unit among a large cluster of tolas (small settlements) in the outskirts of Jamshedpur; the steel city of India.
The NGO people gave us a tour of the village. We were intrigued to find a common feature in nearly all homes: a freshly built small cement structure amidst black & red painted mud homes .
After a little enquiry we got to know that these freshly built structures were the set of toilet and bathrooms.
Wow! This tribal village had recently embraced the idea of in-house toilets instead of open defecation.
All of a sudden I saw that familiar glitter in Jey’s eyes when they met mine. I instantly knew what was going on in his mind. Without saying a word, I consented on his idea with a bright smile.
The next day we were painting the toilets in Jojobeda. Children, youngsters, women, men and elderly participated actively in decorating their toilets. We worked at a super fast speed. Just in a day’s time nearly twenty toilet sets were painted by the army of enthusiasts.
I knew it was an easy task for me to initiate them into painting as painting and decorating homes and walls is central to tribal life.
While I was running around filling the colour bowls and throwing ideas, Jey was having photo shoots with newly born goats and tiny little naked children. He was feasting on not-so-ripe guavas and soaking himself in familiar sounds.
On the third day we went to paint in yet another village. This time it was a village that looked like a house of an extended family. I could not differentiate between one home to another.
Children looked alike, each house had dogs, chickens, goats and some had a few bovines. All smiled and giggled seeing a lady in turban and noticed Jey’s bright coloured spects.
On insistence I started painting a peacock and soon I had a large group working on my side drawing more birds and animals.
I noticed a very steady hand drawing confident strokes on the edge of the wall. Next moment I knew he was a ladyboy; dressed in tight girl top and knee length trouser Kailash stood out in the crowd. I went to him and said- ‘You draw very well. What do you do?’ He replied with a radiant smile that he is a dancer.
I asked- You like dance?
No! I like painting.
It didn’t feel like a stranger’s place any more.
This was a simple world of simple people with simple life style and thinking. They loved their gay Kailash just as much as they loved us or other children of the village.
The elderly women were very proud of Kailash’s drawings and dance when I asked them who liked to paint. As a token of our thank and love, we left a couple of brushes with him.
We have their smiles, giggles and colours etched in our hearts.