Saturday, September 30, 2017


                                                      THE PUSH INTO THE RIVER 

‘Listen attentively. I am sending my family to a safer place as I feel insecure living in this part of the city with my family. There is a threat to my life because of my official duties. I have been advised to shift to a secured zone immediately and live in an atmosphere of security. I shall not be living in this house any more. I want you to be the caretaker of this house till things normalize. You need not spend the nights in this house, but do come here every day and see to it that this lawn is maintained and that everything is okay. 
Also, look for the letters from the post office and the courier service. I am expecting some journals and letters. If any such mail is delivered, give me a ring from the landline telephone which is inside. Keep these keys with you. I will retain one set of keys with me. And I shall pay you one thousand and five hundred rupees a month for this job. Fine!’
Okay, sir. Don’t worry. It is my responsibility now,’ said the caretaker.
I had the last look at my house before asking my driver to move. I had shifted to the new security zone created for the government officials.

One lazy Sunday afternoon, while I was sitting in the lawn of my quarters and reading a newspaper, the guards on duty informed me that someone wanted to see me. I desired to know the identity of the person and the purpose of his visit. I was informed that the person was the 
caretaker of my house and that he had some private work with me.

‘Is everything fine? Sit down and tell me what brings you here this moment.’
 ‘Sir, your house is fine. No worry on that front. A tragedy struck me.’
‘What happened? What tragedy?’
 ‘Sir, my son drowned in the river. He was a young boy of 
14 years. I am ruined.’
‘That is a real tragedy. I can understand your feelings. So sad!’
I dug out two five hundred rupee notes from my pocket and handed them over to the caretaker. 

‘Keep this small amount. This is nothing. My sympathies are with you. Have courage and faith. Everything will be fine.’ 
He accepted the money reluctantly but added, ‘Sir, I want to say something. I need help. I was unwilling to come to you but many people told me that I should seek your help. “
‘What help? Please tell me.’
 ‘Sir! Sir! it looks so odd but then you know my poverty. ’
‘Tell me plainly.’
‘Sir, I was told by many people that you can arrange some government assistance for me. Many people are getting compensation, Monetary assistance and government help. That is why I came to you.’
‘Look here, I don’t tell lies on such serious and tragic occasions. Since the boy fell into the river accidentally, seeking government relief or compensation has neither moral nor legal justification. Who told you all this?’
I dug out two more five hundred rupee notes from my pocket and handed them over to him. He got up to leave.
‘Sir, please keep one thing in mind. I am a poor man.’
The sun had hidden in clouds that had been gathering up over the sky. There appeared a sudden change in the weather. I went inside and asked the servant to prepare a cup of tea.

After that day, the caretaker kept visiting my office repeatedly. Sometimes he stepped inside the office room; sometimes he met me at the entry gate and sometimes he stopped my driver when I was about to leave for my duties. His visits not only annoyed but disturbed me as well. 

‘He is determined to seek something of great value from me. I will refer him to some other person who can easily say a convincing and firm ‘NO’ to him,’ I thought.
I would meet officers during our weekly review meetings. Most of us were friendly and helpful to each other as we faced common problems in turbulent days. I shared this problem with one top officer connected with the implementation of law and order in the insurgency ravaged . To my surprise, the caretaker stopped visiting me. And whenever he telephoned me, he did not mention his son’s drowning. As days passed, I forgot the issue altogether.

One day while I was returning from the office, I saw the caretaker driving a new motor bicycle. Surprised, I asked my driver as to whether he had seen who was driving the motor bicycle. 
‘Sir, why do you test me? You know it all. You have done it.’
‘What have I done?’ 
‘He got compensation in lieu of the drowning incident of his son. It was through your intervention that his compensation case was registered. He got a sum of rupees 2 lakh recently. Didn’t he tell you all this?’
His words shocked and surprised me. I had never said so to any officer nor recommended any compensation for him. In my heart, I also felt a little happy that the tragedy which I tried to compensate by mere two thousand rupees was now adequately compensated. But what intrigued me was how my name got linked with it. I was seriously puzzled.
As days passed I forgot this incident. Uncertainty of  life ruled our minds like a dictator those days. There were many other pressing things to remember like the family affairs, welfare of ailing parents, education of children , official duties and  meeting schedules. I had forgotten my house as well. The caretaker’s issue crept in when he visited or telephoned me. 

And one day the guards outside my quarters informed me that I had a guest. Since it was the caretaker of my house, I asked the security guards to let him in. This time he had come in a three wheeler ( auto rickshaw ) and brought a young boy with him. This young boy was carried inside with the help of the auto rickshaw driver and was made to sit on a chair. Once the boy was comfortable, the auto rickshaw  driver left the quarters and waited outside on the road. 

‘Sir, he is my second son. This poor boy is polio-stricken. He cannot walk. Nor can he use his hands. Sir, this is my biggest worry in life. I shall not be always there for him. He needs to live in this world and for that, he needs to earn something.’
‘I agree with all what you say. I am distressed to find that this young boy can neither use his hands nor legs. Very unfortunate!’

I took out three-five hundred rupee notes from my wallet and said:-

‘Keep this money. This is for the boy. I am sorry. Nothing can be done by me in this case. And please let me know as to what you think about me. I do not run this government. I have no powers to employ people. And then who told you to put this boy to discomfort by carrying him to this place? See, he cannot sit comfortably on that chair. And after all, if he seeks employment, he should be able to work. He cannot walk. He cannot stand on his legs. He cannot use his hands. How do you expect me to arrange a job for him? Who is the person who misguides you?’
Holding the three currency notes on his hand, the caretaker looked towards me and said:-

‘Sir, anything can be done if you put a word. Many people go to the office and sit. They don’t work at all. After finishing sitting in the chair there they come back. Nowadays the final aim is to get a monthly salary. Who cares what you do in the office? Sir, please help this poor man.’ 
‘I am sorry. I can do nothing. And listen, please do not take him to other officers who happen to be my friends. Don’t ever mention my name  at any place.’

The caretaker called the auto rickshaw  driver inside and sought his help to carry the boy back into the vehicle. I walked  up to the door to see him off. After making the boy sit in the vehicle, he turned to me and said:
 ‘Sir! Sir! Keep this poor man in mind. God shall keep your family happy.’


‘How will he live when I am gone? Please think about that, sir.’

‘I have told you very clearly. I shall not promise what I am not capable of doing. You must listen to it once for all.’
The caretaker came a little closer to me and said:
 ‘Okay, sir. Now tell me please….. in case I  push this boy too into the river, shall I get your help in another compensation case? I am a poor man. Don’t misunderstand me.”

 I went into my room. While drawing the window curtains, I thought of going to the bed. I wanted to slip into a quilt and sleep in the darkness of the room. Outside, it looked like an evening with dark clouds all over the sky.

( Avtar Mota )

This is a work of pure fiction. Any resemblance with any person, group or society or incident is a mere coincidence.

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Friday, September 29, 2017



Nirmala Devi was born in a rich family of Jewellers from Varanasi. Yes Varanasi the land that gave us doyens like Girja Devi, Siddeshwari Devi and Rasoolan Bai.

Mother of Hindi Cinema' s popular actor GOVINDA, Nirmal Devi was a renowned Classical singer of yore . Having been trained by Ustad Atta Khan of Patiala Gharana , She remained an unsung Queen of Thumris . Some Musicians hold an opinion that she was a disciple of Ustad Abdul Rehman Khan of Patiala Gharana who was a student of Ustad Atta Khan.Apart from Nirmala Devi, Ustad Abdul Rehman Khan also trained Lakshmi Shankar ( Source.. Page 144 of the Book "Tradtitions of Hindustani Classical Music " By Manorama Sharma )

In 1942, She married a Punjabi actor Arun Kumar Ahuja ( 1917-1998 ) . It was a love marriage ; An intimacy that blossomed into a serious Love affair while they were shooting for a Movie ( SAVERA ) . Arun Ahuja was an accomplished actor of early forties of last century who acted in many films including Mehboob Khan’s “Aurat” . After her marriage , she came to be known as Nirmala Arun. She also acted in some films made in early Forties of last Century but it was singing only that earned her name and respect. 

The family Was struck by a great misfortune when Arun Ahuja decided to produce a film and suffered heavy losses .The family once living in a bungalow in Mumbai’s posh Carter Road had to live in a chawl in Virar . It was Nirmala Devi’s concerts , Work at AIR(later Door Darshan ) and singing for films that enabled her family of six children to survive and stand up . 

“Ro Ro Nain Ganwaaye , Sajna na Aaye “ is my Favourite Thumri sung by Nirmala Devi.Her Bhjan “Bhaktanake Hitakari Hari Tum” is also my Favourite .

Nirmala Devi's  range , remarkable throw and controlled high pitch was exceptional. .

( Autar Mota )
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Bakshi Ghulam Mohd addressing his council of Ministers / MLAs in Srinagar in presence of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru . In this meeting , Shri Ghulam Nabi Wani (Sogami ) MLA Lolab , A cabinet Minister and Pucca loyal to Bakshi Ghulam Mohd, refused to sit in his allocated chair in presence of Bakshi sahib. A token of Loyalty and respect for Bakshi Sahib in his individual style . So the Minister sat on Ground in this meeting .
There are some anecdotes connected with Sogami sahib that were popular among kashmiris of that period .He was a school dropout , possibly not educated enough to understand English words. Inspite of his being less educated , he was a man of action and a doer . He gave the concept of Water Harvesting for Kandi belt of Kupwara . He also made hectic efforts to bring Beautiful Lolab Valley on the tourism Map of the state . Many elders have told me that he was sharp, simple and sincere and spoke mostly in kashmiri or Urdu language . 

sri Makhan Lal Pandita adds :

" I was accountant somewhere and had to attend Public Accounts Committee meeting which was presided over by Sogami Saheb. He put volley of questions and cornered the department in a versatile way. I found him an intelligent person."

I don’t know whether it is correct or not but many  elders used to say that sogami sahib once said ;

“ Flood waalon Ko Goli Maaro , Sailaab Zadon ki Madad karo “

" Leave those affected by " *FLOODS " but help the *SAILAAB sufferers "
( Word SAILAAB in Urdu means FLOOD in English )

This he reportedly said when he saw a group of people that had collected outside his official residence and he was informed that the crowd wanted some relief for “FLOOD “.

( Autar Mota )
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Wednesday, September 27, 2017



In this Photograph , R D Burman recording" Kis ka Rasta deke Aey Dil Aey Saudayi" a popular song with kishore kumar . Others standings include, Yash Chopra , Sahir Ludhianavi and Devanand ..

"Kis ka Rastaa Dekhay  Aey dil Aey saudaayi
Meelon hai khaamoshi barson hai Tanhaayi

Na koyee Tera 
Na koyee Mera
Phir kis ki yaad Aayii...

( sahir )

For Miles and Miles  together ,  
Nothing but an  overwhelming silence   ,
For years and years  together,
Only  loneliness  stays   over here .
Now tell me o crazy Heart,
Which path are you looking  at?
Who’s arrival  is in your mind   ?

O Poor Heart! 
No one is your now ,
And none mine as well,
Why these memories and remembrances..

Sahir and RD worked together in four films .R D was always impressed by Sahir's poetry . His father, senior Burman ( S D ) was also an admirer of sahir . R D and Sahir worked together in Deewar , Aa Gale lag Jaa, Joshila and Burning Train. some popular songs from these films that come to my mind are..

(1) Pal Do Pal ka Saath Hamaara pal Do pal Ke yaaraane ( Burning Train )
(2) Keh Doon Tujhe Ya Chupp Rahoon Dil Mein Meray Aaj Kyaa hai . ( Deewar )
(3) Vaada karo Nahin Chhorro Ge tum Mera saath ( Aa Gale lag Jaa )
(4)  Kis Ka Rastaa dekhe Aey dil Aey saudaayi ... ( Joshila )

( Autar Mota )

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Friday, September 22, 2017




Sounds unusual but it remains a fact that Dr S Radhakrishnan was a great admirer of singer Mohd Rafi.

And Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru had publicly expressed his admiration for Mohd  Rafi several times .

( Autar Mota )

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Thursday, September 21, 2017



                                            (The Bride’s Jewellery )

When Rupawati entered the Baithak or the sitting room, she was happy to see her new daughter in law seated on a raised platform with some pillows on her back. Embracing her affectionately, she kissed her forehead. That made both of them happy. Straightening the sheet underneath before sitting near her daughter in law, she said:

“ Go and stretch your legs. One gets tired by sitting in one posture only. Now, none is expected to come this way. I shall also sleep a while. I feel like taking some rest.”

It was 2 PM. The family had already finished their lunch. No lady from Mohalla was expected now. No relatives were expected at that odd time. Rupawati pulled a pillow towards her and tried to sleep.
She had barely closed her eyes when she heard a knock at the door. It was Sham Rani. She had come to have tea from the new daughter in law ( Nov Nosh ). That was the custom in Kashmiri Pandit families. Every close relation would come to see the new bride and the custom demanded that the guest would have a cup of tea prepared by the new daughter in law. The custom also demanded that the bride would be paid some cash by the guest for this cup of tea.  

 After her marriage, every girl was given a new name in her in-law's house. Accordingly, Rupawati had renamed her daughter in law as “ Lakshmi”. Before her marriage, Lakshmi was known as Asha Koul in her parental home.

 Shaam Rani was the sister of Rupawati ‘s husband affectionately known as Bai Sahib. Bai Sahib or Moti Lal Dhar worked as head clerk in P.W.D. He enjoyed respect and command amongst his relations. Everyone was impressed to see his boss Nazir Sahib ( divisional engineer ) in the marriage of Raja Ji, Moti Lal’s son. Nazir Sahib had even sent his car and driver for three days to Moti Lal Dhar ‘s residence during the marriage days. The family felt grateful for this act.
Coming close to Lakshmi, Shaam Rani kissed her forehead and said :

“ Let you prosper. Let this family flourish with your arrival. ”

 Though relations between Shaam Rani and Rupawati appeared to be good yet some insiders knew it well that they were not so intimate and considerate towards each other. There was some bickering in this relation on account of the marriage of Gaasha or 
Shaam Rani’s son. Shaam Rani believed that Rupawati had been instrumental in conveying some adverse reports to the middle man ( Manzimyor ) about Gaasha as a result of which his marriage proposal with the girl from a wealthy family had frittered away. Shaam Rani had lodged this complaint with her brother Moti Lal as well but he had not dealt the issue on expected lines. He had neither rebuked his wife nor shown much-desired sympathy with his sister. In the alternative, he had told his sister,

“ At the outset, I don’t believe that Rupawati will say so. Isn’t Gaasha a matriculate? Why have you written ‘ B.A. Pass ’ on the marriage proposal document ( Tekini )? “

When Sham Rani heard all this from her brother, she had turned dumb. She had always believed that after the death of her parents, her link with her parental home had been severed by none except Tarawati. She believed that Tarawati had also changed her brother’s behaviour drastically. Now 
Moti Lal openly sided with his wife in any argument. But then she had only one brother. She had no choice but to remain tied to this relationship even if it gave her perpetual annoyance. 

Suddenly Shaam Rani came closer and started the inspection of Lakshmi's jewellery. She touched her earrings, her necklace and the golden bangles. She also took her dangling Dejhurr ( a special gold ornament worn by Kashmiri Pandit women as Mangal-Sutra ) in her hand as if to weigh it. She inspected the Dejhurr carefully and then looked towards Rupawati. Her facial expressions conveyed some surprise.
 At this Rupawati looked towards Lakshmi and said:

“ Get Up and prepare tea for Shaam Rani “

 Freeing herself from Shaam Rani, Lakshmi got up and went downstairs to prepare the tea. Finding that Lakshmi had left the room, Shaam Rani turned to Rupawati and said:

“ You have fallen into filth and garbage with this marriage. Had Kashmir shrunk to just eleven households? But yes, we were told nothing till you fixed up the engagement date. Now all is okay but I find all this jewellery just hollow, lightweight and meant for show off only ( Phokka ). My Daughter in law has brought everything made of heavy and solid gold ( Tokka ). Your son Raja Ji is a jewel. He would have been married to a girl from some wealthy and prosperous family. I believe you have been befooled and trapped. ”

That made Rupawati pensive. She had nothing against Lakshmi. But she also knew that Shaam Rani's observation was bound to disturb her position among her relations and neighbours. She knew that now onwards Sham Rani was not going to remain silent about what she had observed about the ornaments 
of the bride.

 ( Avtar Mota )  



The story is set in Kashmir of 1970  when the old  practice of inspection of jewellery of a bride by  lady relations of her husband continued to exist in bits and pieces in Kashmiri Pandit society. Though the  practice of  dowry demand was almost  negligible in Kashmiri Pandit society, yet the custom  of  inspection of jewellery of the bride by ladies survived till it died its own death. Curious women would put a common question to  the lady who inspected the jewellery first ;

“Kehaai Phokka Chhaa kina Tokka ?


“ Is it Just for show and light weight or Solid and heavy jewellery? ”

  With the  spread of  education and exposure, this practice vanished altogether. 

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