4Return to Kesur

My most adventurous, carefree times in the early years after we returned to India were at our ancestral home in Kesur, where my grandfather, my father's brothers, and their families lived. Away from my father's scrutiny, I spent these breaks driving the tractor, plowing the fields, and hauling sand, gravel, bricks, and fertilizer in a clanging trolley over the unpaved rutted paths that connected our house and our land.

We also visited Kesur during religious festivals. These included the big three: Holi, Diwali, and Dussehra. We celebrated each in a grand way, but Dussehra – symbolizing the triumph of Lord Rama over the demon Ravana – was the most significant for Rajputs.

The most anticipated event of every Dussehra was a music and dance program with a “nautch girl” brought in from the big city. Everyone in Kesur referred to her as the Randi, which means prostitute, though her only role on these occasions was to dance and entertain.

The Rowla was open to everyone in the village on this day. At dusk, people started streaming in to take up prime viewing positions on the ground in the large square inner courtyard just past the massive entry doorway (tall enough for an elephant to get through). When the Randi and her supporting cast arrived, they were given a makeshift “green room” next to the dance area. We kids cast eager glances in that direction, imagining what was going on within. Bright red rose‐flavored and orange‐flavored local liquor flowed freely, provided ...

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