Oct 6, 2008

Games people play...

I realize today that i do not have a picture of my grand mother, Didun as i called her. Just fleeting memories of how she would struggle to teach me the bengali dialect and silently sit in her wheel chair day after day instructing people in her quiet manner, running the household single-handedly.

Holidays as a kid always meant a visit to my grandparents, the fields, the pond, the huge huge house all seemed to wait in bated breath for our arrival and suddenly as i ran in, Didun would call for Lime water. There would be plenty to share with her, and even as i watched her over the year shriveling away under the pangs of arthritis, she would always make me feel special. She passed away when i was 11, but left me with very vivid memories. I asked Dadu what i'd never asked her, of how they met, got married and proverbially "fell in love".

However, Dadu had quite another tale to narrate. The time he was asked to go forth and meet his potential in-laws, Dadu was a fine looking young boy of 23, just out of the pangs of scarcity and doing reasonably well for himself. However his in-laws were in a league of their own, with massive amounts of land in assets, they were zamindars (landlord) with little association with the working class. Dadu's natural suspicion at the class disparity (we are talking about the 1940's here) got the better of him and he grew suspicious as to why a rich zamindar would marry his daughter to a working class guy, with no family backing.

Albeit, he sets forth to meet the family with his friend and employee (driver) Ashu Dawa in tow. They reach the village in Orissa after a long journey and meet a very eager and welcoming family. Both friends are well taken care of, given a tour of the property and generally made comfortable. Ashu being the worse off, especially enjoyed the attention and more importantly the food. Upon his insistence, Dadu and Ashu stay on for a couple of days enjoying the attention lavished upon them, however Dadu grows increasingly uncomfortable with all the suspicion brewing in his mind and to top it, the girl in question (Didun) being not the looker he expected with a dark complexion (now you know why Fair n Lovely sells).

At the end of their stay, Dadu makes up his mind to refuse the match. Ashu butts in at this juncture and says that such a judgment passed right then would be inappropriate, especially after all the good food washed down over the past few days. Dadu though in agreement is caught between the horns of dilemma and as a desperate move agrees for the match, hoping that he can deny by mail once he's back home.

Upon returning, he confesses to his uncle, his unwillingness to marry as well as the fact that he said yes in an earlier instance, just to avoid confrontation. He hoped, that his uncle would deny on his behalf . However here is what his uncle told him, "A man is worth only as much as his words, if you cannot honor them, then you'd rather not speak". And the rest as they say is history, he did get married to Didun and bore nine children.

P.S. His suspicions were put to rest when told that the match was highly recommended by the priest after matching both their "janampatri's". While matching the patri's the priest supposedly claimed that the boy had a brilliant future.


ishmi said...

came here via flickr..but stayed on to read this well-told story! how enchanting it is to always hear stories from grandparents about their own lives..and they are all so similar yet unique in their own ways! :)
well written indeed!