Natt – Half Nomad
January 5, 2015
Moni starts to strech and warm herself up. Bholu, Moni’s brother, has started playing the musical instrument which doesn’t have a name. People have started gathering. Moni’s mother has started her commentary to attract the mob. It’s time for the show. A few difficult tricks, some gymnastics, some odd steps will be followed by the collection of donations from the mob.
Moni, the teenage girl cannot afford to make any mistake. The earning of the family of 8 depends on her and her sister’s performance. Single mistake is enough to kill the spirit of the environment and the mob will disburse without paying anything.
Their younger siblings are still getting trained. They are also a part of the show. As the show proceeds they show different, extremely difficult tricks. The commentary continues in the background in the loudspeaker, with codes of hidden instructions to the performer. Someone moves around the mob which has encircled the performers, with a donation dish. People give whatever they feel like. After one round is complete, the collector sits down and counts the money, keeps it aside and starts again to move around with a hope of more collection. Moni, all this while continues to perform. During the show it becomes evident that the whole group (Family) has been very well trained. Even the kid playing the steel dish knows exactly when to hit the sticks on the dish.
At day end, the collected money will be kept by the head of the family. He along with his grown up sons will have cheap liquor and arrange some food. The kids will probably be awarded with some sugar candies. The women and the girls will have to arrange firewood (or alike) to cook.
Their life moves around this. Passing on the meagre knowledge to generations and training the younger ones.
Welcome to the world of Natts. Half-nomads, that’s what you can call them. They do not have anything called home. They do not own any house. They do not own any land. They stay in the footpaths. A couple of tents made up of anything that is not suitable to make a tent.
They at times own a herd of pigs. They feed on things which are not accepted in the well-to-do world. Owls, squirrels and what nots. In towns, usually you will find them habitated near the “Sulabh Shauchalayas” (Public toilets) for obvious reasons.
They make their livelihood by selling herbal medicines and by doing different activities to entertain people on streets/ in public places.
This photo-essay shows various moments during the show.