Once a married Dudda was blessed with a son who turned
out to be prodigy. Prem was the son of Prasad the Dudda. Prem was admitted in a
Govt. Primary School popularly known as Jabri School under the compulsory mass
Education scheme in the Dorga regime. The schooling there was free. Books as
well as stationery & other paraphernalia were also provided free of cost
Prem showed his merit as a very laborious and intelligent
boy throughout his educational career and completed his professional courses in
medicine with merit at Govt. expense. As a doctor too, he was very successful
and earned tons of money and wide spread fame. Soon, he became a venerable
member of society. In spite of his unhindered progress, he turned out to be a
very obedient, meek and courteous personality. He respected his parents ever
more and more. He always made sure that they were well dressed in fine, costly
costumes. He generally utilized his leisure time in the service of his parents,
keeping them busy in conversation and in indoor games as all faithful and loving
Once, on a festive occasion. Prem arranged a grand a feast
at his palatial mansion. He invited all his relatives, friends and colleagues.
M.P’s., M.L.As, Potmttes, landlords as well as Jagirdars and other elite
also graced the occasion.
Elegantly dressed with a huge, snow-white turban crowning
his head. Prasad was the Chief host-cum-guest.
A gorgeously designed, big pillow was kept behind
him to rest his back on. Arm-rests, arranged on both side, were equally
comfortable for him. All such arrangements were made perfectly in oriental
The guests sat on his sides, and in front in parallel rows
beside the parallel patches plastered with a paste of brown earth. Jugs of water
came in and the guests were helped to wash their hands in portable basins.
Dish after dish was served. The delicious dishes diffused
their fragrance far and near. This attracted more Duddas to take their seats
near the entrance of the well-decorated hall.
There arose a din of spontaneous appreciation:
"Ah, what a number of dishes after dish is served!
' Yes, what a sweet fragrance has filled the air!
'O, would that the supply of sweet dishes were never to
'Yes, I am sure, I can never forget such an exalted last in
my lifetime! And so on and so forth came the appreciative comments front all
Prasad Ram had been specially served with the host and
biggest 'Kansidish’ carefully filled with all delicacies. Prem Nath was busy
going round and entertaining the guests this provided opportunity to Prasad to
quickly rise up in response to his irresistible, second nature. He rushed
swiftly and took his habitual seat amidst his old colleagues and friends
“What is the matter?” they asked one another. The
servers stood motionless in amazement "Hush! Hush’…” came the low
whispers. A grim atmosphere of dreadful silence followed. Everybody turned his
eyes towards Prasad Ram.
Prem Nath was stunned and dumb founded. He stood like a
lifeless statue wondering what had happened. "Didn’t I well entertain my
dear old father? Wasn't he supplied every dish he wanted? Did my father find any
lacuna in our service program'? Didn't he get all the attention due to him as
the Chief Guest?" There arose a volley of similar doubts in Prem Nath's
mind that bewildered him.
At last Prem Nath gathered himself up, went to his
father and meekly asked him the reason in a weak, trembling voice "My dear
father, what is the matter'? Did you want anything more? Was I slack in serving
and entertaining you? If so, I beg to be pardoned?
"No my dearest boy, I was honored and served well
beyond my expectations don’t you worry on that score, the apple of my
eye." replied Prasad Ram.
"Then what was the reason of leaving your place of
honor?" asked Prem Nath.
"My dear son, there is something beyond your
comprehension. It is my second nature, which was not satisfied. I received all
the attention that I needed and you could provide." replied Prasad.
But ….but….but. I missed that sweet. long- wooden-spoon
blow by the head cook, on my shoulders.
And this…this…and this I used to receive at the hands
of annoyed head cooks as the sweetest, most cherished last morsel of the feast.
This it what, in the language of our clan, what is known as the most tasty
morsel of such delicious dishes of a dinner party in Kashmiri we call it as
" Meutt Puot Meund"" of the meal.
The tastiest past massal of food the sweet dish at the end
of a feast. I waited for and cherished before stepping away form such Parhes.
Not long ago, as is well known, India generally and Kashmir
is particular as other parts of the wide world, were enveloped in an atmosphere
of ignorance, poverty and unemployment. Lack of scientific, and numerological
knowledge and technological know how stood in the way of socio-economic progress
and development. The supply of metallic utensils, plates & tumblers etc. was
rare. Rental shops, as we find these days, were totally non-existent. Crude
pottery was in popular use for domestic purposes, small and big feasts during
those days. Potters did big business then.
Hindu-marriage feasts in Kashmir have, always been and
still continue to be an open affair. Anybody, whether invited or not, can come
and partake of the feast together with all other guests.
Only a couple of decades or before independence (1947) in
the recent past, no tables were laid nor carpets and white sheets spread in well
decorated dining halls, as we do today.
Big halls, on such occasions those days, were arranged in
compounds as enclosures with Tajeeras. Shamianas as fencing and
roofing’s respectively. Or alternatively in self-owned or borrowed halls in
big mansions. Dining tables constituted long rectangular, parallel.
mud-plastered patches on the plane, round, locally known as Dajees, and
the process of plastering with brown earth as Liwun as a mark of
sanitation or cleanliness to be exact. The seats alongside these plastered
patches consisted of long narrow grass mats, known as Patjis in Kashmir
or, folded blankets etc.
The Uninvited guests, called Dudda generally
took their seats near the entrances, though no body dare object to their sitting
anywhere else in the hall. Meals were served in big or small earthenware plates.
The former are locally known as Tabohis and the latter Takus.
(This phenomenon was the result of object Poverty.)
Two or three such food-filled plates would be served
whenever demanded by any guest. Such demands were generally made by the Duddas
or uninvited guests! These uninvited guests generally participated in
feasts with the intention of eating to their will and also at the same time,
taking back home one or two food plates full to the brim for their families- And
since, on the asking by the distributors what for the Dudda demanded
a second plate, the latter generally named his mother as the reason. This second
plate came to be known as Moji Quit Tok. Hence was born the
undesirable saying about an extra demand by any recipient of an undue favor:
"Aukh Dudda tea bayae Moji quit Tok." 'This when freely interpreted
means: "Being an uninvited guest how dare you demand extra favor ".
The reason, for a Dudda's sitting near the entrance, was to make good for exit
unnoticed without disturbing, the others or attracting undesirable attention.
Often times, when pestered with persistent extra demands of
filling up more and more delicacies into a Duddas plates; the head cook, getting
annoyed would usually give a blow or two on his shoulders with his long wooden
spoon to silence him.
The repetition of such blows during, feast after feast, in
course of time, became the cherished ending of a feast for a Dudda. It became
the sweetest last morsel of a meal or put mound for such habitual uninvited
guest. Happily prosperity and use of stainless steel plates instead of
earthenware happened in the discernible extinction of the race of Dudda’s!