India during 1938
Mr. Robert L. Williams
India during 1938
Articles
RIKKI-TIKKI TAXI
THE ASHRAM
THE NOBLEST EDIFACE
OF CHAPATTIS AND JACKALS
CHANDNI CHOWK
THE TRAIN
SCHOOLDAYS IN THE HILLS
A CHARCOAL CHANT
MOONLIGHT AND DEODARS
WATERS IN THE MOONLIGHT
 A CHARCOAL CHANT
(Article Submited by : Mr. Robert L. Williams)

After the wailing chant of a charcoal walla echoed from the crags,
It wavered in the wind,
And drifting eeriliy across the molten path of the sunset,
Faded into the cool blue haze of the shadowed valleys.
It was a song of life,
A hard life in the wilderness, rugged and crude.
It mingled the strange pathos of sweat and toil,
with the gurgling brooks and scented pines.

A dirge of tarry fumes oozing heavenward
From smoldering heaps of wood and earth.
A crackling of gnarled oaks,
as they relinquished their sinewy limbs,
To the insistent wrench of knotty hands.

It was a song of long hours beneath the brazen sun,
Mottling the dry carpet of leaves with dancing shadows:
Of foraging and tending; of chopping and breaking and feeding;
Of measured heave against the taught head- band’
And pad of callused feet on hot rocks and dry sand.

Beads of sweat standing out on grimy countenances,
Like drops of steam on an old oily boiler.
Black dust sifting through the carrying racks,
Permeating the old rags and bare brown skin.
Wager and barter and meager rations: gossip in slurred gutturals,
And the passing of a dwindling cigarette from hand to hand.
A song of the nights spent spinning yarns,
By the sleepy warmth of smudge fires
dotting the hills like glowing red eyes,
With mosquitoes singing angrily about the pillows of smoke.
The regular piping of a scops owl and the startled bark of deer,
Piercing the whispered hush of a crystal night.

This was a song of the mountains:
Of a simple life, a struggle, and the survival of the fittest.
A song of toil and trouble,
Of pain and hardship,
Of strength and endurance.
A song to be chanted over the winds and across the valleys,
Among the twisted oaks and towering pines.