Dilair’s Secret Adventure

Nobody will be any wiser about Dilair’s adventure that morning some years ago when she happily danced in Mumbiram’s atelier with other non Baluchi friends that she shared as a young girl. Yet Dilair has shared with her friends her happiness and her delight at making acquaintance with this very different man, a rasik artist !

Dilair was a young teenager when Mumbiram first got to know her. She was hanging out with other girls and women from near her neighbourhood at Shivajinagar railway station where she was living. These were girls that used to go out ragpicking in towns along the railway line to Bombay. They were not Baluchis. They used to take local trains to Lonavla. Mumbiram must have met them on the platform of the Shivajinagar railway station. We can only speculate how Mumbiram approached them, how he invited them to his atelier, how the six of them including Mumbiram boarded one or two autorickshaws and arrived at Mumbiram’s Mandai atelier. In India it was way out of the ordinary for such a thing to happen. Credit for that goes to both sides. Dilair the bold Baluchi girl had ventured out with other non Baluchi girls that were ragpickers. Mumbiram was hijacking them to his atelier near the vegetable market.

Mumbiram would have said both sides had responded to the forces of aesthetic gravitation. The girls wear genuinely happy to have gone with the artist as you can see from the photographs. Dilair looks like she is on cloud nine. You can see two other girls in the photographs and a little boy too. 

There was a very tall girl named Mumtaz that we do not see in this picture. Mumbiram immediately put a fresh sheet of handmade paper on the board and made a very quick charcoal portrait of Mumtaz while the other girls were soaking in the magical atmosphere of the Artist’s studio.

That was the only time that these girls would visit Mumbiram’s studio. Without even saying a word, all of them had understood that no one will utter a word about that morning’s adventure.

"Mumtaz of Baluchi Wasti", Charcoal Portrait by Mumbiram
"Mumtaz of Baluchi Wasti", Charcoal Portrait by Mumbiram

Mumbiram was very proud of that portrait of Mumtaz he made that morning. Indeed the simplicity and the clarity of the line is outstanding. When Mumbiram visited Sevagram for the first time with Markus Mueller, he had carried with him this portrait of Mumtaz along with one of Surekha as a philosopher and one of Baby as a painter and one of Salma sitting on the sidewalk. The elderly resident Kusumtai in that Ashram liked it so much that she told about it to everybody in the Ashram.

Indeed they all remained true to their unspoken word about keeping everything about that magical morning safe in the vaults of memory. No, they did not avoid each other in anyway. On the contrary they rejoiced in the secret inner joy they experienced whenever they met publicly and nobody else knew of their secret memories that only they shared. Indeed nothing like that ever happened in their lives before or after.

Look at these photos, some years later, of Dilair and her Baluchi women friends travelling in the local train to Lonavla. No, they don’t go ragpicking. Heaven forbid ! It must have been a joyride. Or are they just giving a photo-op to Mumbiram ?

Dilair is carrying a cute baby-girl on her side. Yes, that in the pink dress is Dilair. They are all colourfully dressed but Dilair stands out in her nice outfit. Look at them standing at the open doorway of the running train with babies on their side. Dilair is happily and openly waving to Mumbiram who is wielding a camera. But she’s safe. She is holding onto the pole with her left hand. She’s supported under her right arm by her friend who is beaming straight into Mumbiram with narrow eyes. They surely are brightly dressed and happy about it. The two on the right are looking down at the surprise of this unexpected fun. They are not unfamiliar with Mumbiram. They’re quite flattered and pleased that they are being photographed. And why not, they are so nicely dressed, in their favourite company and on a happy carefree train ride. Besides Dilair is leading the way in their joyous response. We are certain this was another precious memory they will cherish for a long time after even though they may never ever see these photographs. And nobody will be any wiser about Dilair’s adventure that morning some years ago when she happily danced in Mumbiram’s atelier with other nonBaluchi friends that she shared as a young girl.

Uh-Oh ! Dilair is blowing a kiss to Mumbiram ! Her friends seem quite relaxed about it. Notice the beautiful traditional skirt with many many folds that the girl on the right leaning against the door is wearing. What beautiful silver ankle-strips she’s sporting ! She’s wearing high heel sandals. She has confidently crossed one leg in front of the other and now she’s looking straight into Mumbiram. Could she be Dilair’s sister ?

Bye-bye Dilair ! Bye-bye girls ! Dilair has shared with her friends her happiness and her delight at making acquaintance with this very different man, a rasik artist !

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