Folk Tales from Kashmir

Table of Contents

  Index
  Foreword
  Dedication
  Preface
  Introduction
  Twin Scientists
  Daddy’s Distress
  Breaking the Horse
  She is the Apple of My Eye
  Daddy’s Coronation
  The In-Law Tussle
  Broken Pen
  The Dudda
  Daddy’s Nightmare
  Rise and Fall
  Rivalry and Rebuff 
  Mini Marco Polo
  Royal Dudda
  Facing the Challenge
  Yes, No? May be So
  Crest Fallen
  Psychic-Clash
  Shock Treatment
  Grandma’s Shivratri
  Conquering Death
  Prickly Thistle
  Book in pdf format

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir

Milchar

Symbol of Unity

 
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Chapter 18

Shock Treatment

"When the cat is away mice play," so goes the saying.

"Mother Kamla being away resting in her private room in the second storey of the house, I faced no inhibitions or obstructions on her account nor have I any phobia of her presence on the scene of reciprocal visits, of my maternal kith and kin and my friends. My meticulously thought out plan has succeeded well. I feel free as a lark to dance, play or sing in merriment in the joyous company of my guests, like Words worth's Myriads of Daffodils that strewed the greens and tossed their heads while dancing in breeze.

Feeling free as a lark I soar high singing and singing while soaring like shalley's sky lark surcharged with music."

One day jubilant entertainments are held in the new drawing room. After sometime, the grandma, Kamla begins to feel embarrassed in the new situation. She often grins within herself, "I have now begun to become redundant, a non-entity in my own home," she starts thinking.

She adjusts herself by often retiring to her bed-cum-sitting room, in the second storey of her house. This, she gradually and imperceptibly changes into her permanent habitat. She keeps herself engaged in knitting and sewing clothes. She is provided with her own sanitary arrangements. Also, she comes down to the ground floor at meals and tea time only. (four times a day). Such a voluntary confinement accelerates her ageing process and she becomes weaker and weaker to move about.

As an obedient and affectionate daughter-in-law, Koshaliya serves her (Kamla) well and feeds her as usual now in her sitting-cum-bed room.

And, as time passes by, relationships widen due to fresh marriages of their kith and kin, Koshaliya remains busier ever after, at least for a couple of years or two. She finds herself over exhausted at the end of each day.

"I thought, I was as clever as I was brisk and nimble in the prime of my youth. But alas! Sooner than later, grim thoughts of waning strength and slackening of movement began seeping into my mind. I begin to realize that my self imposed plan had 'turned counter productive. My additional load of work in serving food and drink to Kamlaji in her room entailed many up and down trips. I have been feeling exhausted and panting for breath in the middle of the stiff staircase while carrying food and drink and bringing down metallic utensils for a wash besides having to make many more rounds in her service. My calf muscles seem to be laboured and beleaguered many hues and my knees seemed to refuse bending to take an upward step. So many times, I have had to take help of side-walls to struggle going up and reaching Kamlaji.

Cursed be the moment the plan was put into practice not only to the deprivation of the vigor of my youth but also to the deterioration of Kamala's comparatively the then better health".

Koshaliya often ponders over the plan and sometimes is heard cursing herself aloud.

Despite the comforts provided to her, Kamlaji also feels disgruntled for an isolated life she's forced into having to the detriment of her health.

Koshaliya's husband is sensitive enough to watch the sluggish movements and listlessness due to his wife's overwork. One day he says to her, "My darling, dear Koshaliya, I have been watching you for long now. Something seems to have sucked out all your youthful vigor, agility and smartness. Where is the pinkish glow on your ruddy cheeks gone? It seems to have been bleached yielding place to ghastly parlor. I can't bear this plight of yours.

Aren't you feeling weak, anemic and famished? Do you need any thing to keep yourself trim again? Pray tell me what is ailing you. I will do everything to keep you up and doing, happy and healthy.

Koshaliya was so far hesitant to reveal her woes to Keshew and feeling shy to speak the plain truth, relates what is wrong with her in fumbling words, thus:

"Dear Swamiji, you see how exhausted I feel at the end of each day. You too remain too busy in your official and horticultural work of the Tehsildar," says Koshaliya to her husband, Keshew.

"True my darling, true. But what is the remedy?" he asks.

"May I make a suggestion? Let us purchase some earthen plates, cups and tumblers from a potter's mill." Koshaliya suggests.

"What then? How will it solve the problem of our fatigue, my dear ?" replies Keshew.

"I as well as you know our mother, Kamlaji is a saint. She has grown more saintly than before, now. If we use these earthen plates to serve her food and tea, she can easily throw them out of the window after use each time. This will relieve me of more than half of my labor in her service. Won't it?" says Koshaliya.

"Certainly darling. Certainly. You begin the process from tomorrow and I will convince my mother about," replies Keshew.

The process begins. Their two sons and daughter, Krishen, Kewal and Kunti by now are school going, teenaged, Intelligent children. On observing this for several days, the three children hold a secret conference together. They argue, "We have grown up under the close supervision and care of our dear parents. We have picked up the art of domestic chores, gardening, work at our lawns and even reading and writing by imitating them. Now they have provided us another opportunity to imitate them. But fashions are fast changing. Suppose there are no potter's mills by the time our parents, dear Keshew ji and dearer Koshaliya Ji get old, what can we do ? Wherefrom can we procure earthen plates, cups and tumblers for them to eat and drink from?"

They hit upon a plan during the same conference.

"Let us fix turns and stealthily collect the plates, cups and the tumblers thrown out after every meal and tea time by our grand mother," suggests Krishna.

"Yes, let us begin from our eldest brother. Let him collect these articles, wash them clean and store them in the attic," suggest Kewal and Kunti.

The plan is meticulously executed. The plates, cups and tumblers get elegantly piled and exhibited on one side of the attic for a couple of years or so.

By chance, Keshew steps into the attic after sometime. He is surprised to see piles of artistically placed plates etc. there. On going out, he says to himself.

"After all my wife is farsighted and has received perfect training at my parents' hands. She must be preparing for the sacred thread ceremony of our children", he thinks. So, after coming down, he behaves as if he hasn't observed anything extra-ordinary in the attic.

Time passes by. Once Koshaliya runs after a cat with a long rod in hand. The cat had drunk and spilled her bucketful of milk. She follows the cat to the attic. As soon as her eyes catch sight of the well exhibited earthenware pottery, she frets and fumes. "How is it that my dear Keshewji has bought the Pottery for the sacred thread ceremony" without even consulting me in the matter? Doesn't he know that fashions are changing fast? And, this pottery may soon get substituted by stainless steel utensils, plates and cups etc?" She says to herself. Despite her simmering anger, she controls herself and keeps mum. 

Once, on a happy occasion, tables for tea are laid in the lawns of the house shaded by umbrellas.

In the middle of the merry gossip, din and chatter at that party, Koshaliya, losing her control, suddenly bursts out aloud. "Who, the devil, has dared to store piles over piles of earthenware plates, cups and tumblers in the attic?"

She repeats the same, in fumbling voice several times.

The gay participating guests and others are stunned. All eyes turn towards Koshaliya. There is a hush of silence. Keshew is dumb founded. The children tremble and sink in their seats. The guests look puzzled at this sudden outburst.

The trembling children mutter. "Mummy, Daddy We…. We…..We." They try to speak but can't face their stunned parents.

One of the guests says, "Yes, dear Krishna, Kewal and Kunti tell me what you have to say, please tell me what you want to say".

The children, turning their backs towards their parents say, "Dear auntyji, you know we have learnt everything even reading and writing by obediently imitating Papa and Mummy all through our life time. You also know that fashions are changing fast. Who knows, when our Papa and mummy grow old, there may not exist any potter's mills? then"? "Yes dear children, all this is true. But how does that matter to you?" asks she.

"Pappa and Mummy have been feeding our grand ma in earthen plates and pottery for years now, Grand Mother throws these, each time, out of the window after use we collected them washed and stored them safely in the attic. After all, wherefrom else could we get them when our Mummy and daddy grew old? Haven't we done the right thing anutiji? They replied candidly.

Hush. Hush Hush .Hush .h... h... h... "was the reflexive response, in whispers, from all mouths: Keshew and Koshaliya were dumb founded sweating and sunken in self contempt and deep contemplation.

 
 

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