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 8

The Dudda

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 there.

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 sons do.

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 style.

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 end!

'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 quarters.

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 there.”

“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!

 
 

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