Monday, July 20, 2015
He was making some money now. In this day and age, when people hardly had time to lift their heads from the devices in their hands, he made some money. It surprised him too. Perhaps it was because his was a dying art. Magic. Well not dying, really. Just that he did not know how to make money with his gift. Anything commercialized well would sell, he knew. But he had inherited his father's simplicity along with his talent. He was not zealously ambitious, had no drive to be famous or earn heaps. His father had barely made ends meet. And so did he. At least he had no family to feed. Alone and wandering, he made with what he got. A one-man show, in every sense.
It had been only a few days in this new spot. He usually targeted small parks, where he could put up his acts. He would mostly perform during late afternoons and evenings, when people would be out and, perhaps, be willing to be amused. It was becoming harder to draw people's attention and interest. People had their smart phones - their life partner, entertainment centre, book, guide, friend and much more rolled into one! But his amiable disposition and earnest love for magic reflected in his work. People would occasionally pause and see him. At the end of his little performance, he would walk around with his hat so that people may appreciate him (monetarily). He had noticed that if parents were around with kids, the odds were in his favour.
It was one such generous day, and he had just completed his performance. Being a weekend, the turnout was better than usual. His hat had become heavier than normal too. He waved, the audience gently clapped and everyone dispersed. He noticed that there was a boy still lingering around. He seemed a bit shy, and it seemed like he wanted to say something. He smiled at the boy, as he was sorting his earnings for the day. The boy smiled back. The boy was shabbily dressed, but his face radiated innocence. "You liked my magic?"
The boy was thrilled at being addressed. "Of course Magic chacha! I love magic. Umm...I can call you that, right? Magic chacha?"
"Of course, of course... you can. So you love magic, huh? What is your name?"
"I am called Chotu by everyone".
"Okay Chotu.... so what is it about magic that you like?"
"Whenever I watch you perform, I am amazed at how you bring things out from thin air; and how things disappear or break - but you bring it back or put it together!"
"Oh, is that so? Well, it's not very easy you know. It takes a lot of work and discipline to be a good magician. You think you can work hard enough, Chotu?"
"Yes, yes.... I absolutely will, I can. Will you teach me magic, Chacha?"
He let out a hearty laugh. "Ah, so you want me to teach you too? Good good."
"Yes Chacha. But I think I would like to make some small changes to the acts, if you don't mind. That is what I want to learn".
This is getting interesting, he thought. A boy is going to tell me how to better my acts!
"Oh, is that so? May I know what changes would you like?"
"Yes Chacha, definitely. I need to understand if those changes can be made."
"Okay, okay - sure. Go ahead, let me hear them."
"I love how you pull a bunny out of the hat. I think bunnies are cute. But, do you think you can teach me to pull biscuits out of a hat?"
"Biscuits?! Why would people want to see you pull biscuits out of a hat?"
"Chacha, actually, it's for Munna - my younger brother. He is too small to understand things. When he gets hungry, he just keeps crying. Now, you tell me Chacha - can we explain to him that there is no money and we can't buy food? Mai and me, we can go without food. But he doesn't understand. So if I could learn to pull biscuits out of a hat, he could eat that. He would stop crying, I think."
"Oh. So.... do you go hungry often, Chotu? Where is your father? Does he not earn?"
"No Chacha. Mai told me that one day Baba disappeared and left us alone, to fend for ourselves. Which brings me to the next act. You normally make a ball disappear, and then you bring it back, right? Is there any way you can bring a person back? I think it would help to bring my Baba back. We don't know where he disappeared to. From that day the smile from Mai's face disappeared as well. I think if Baba came back, the smile would come back too."
He choked and tears welled in his eyes.
"It would be tough, you know. Bringing back a person..."
Chotu interrupted him "I thought so too. Well, there's one act which I think, needs no change. The one where you pull a coin from behind someone's ears? That is perfect! I think that once I master that, I will be able to pull out some notes too. And then we'd have some money to live with. I don't wish for a lot you know - just some money. So that we can live. I don't want to get greedy - Mai says that one must not be greedy; God punishes greedy people. Do you think so too?"
"I, well... yes... I agree with your Mai..."
"I will try my best to learn, Chacha. Will you teach me the acts, with these changes?"
Looking into those naive eyes, he could not muster anything except a very weak "Yes".
Chotu beamed with happiness and pride, not being able to believe his good luck. "Chacha, you know what, Mai says that all this magic is nonsense! Can you believe that? Now I am going to learn this from you and surprise her one day. You wait and see! When can we start?"
"Let us start next week, okay?"
"Okay. I have to go now, Chacha. But you will be here, right? Next week?"
"Yes. I will."
Saying this, Chotu frolicked away.
He packed his things and started walking. Walking away as fast as he can and as far away as his legs would take him.