Friday, September 21, 2018




“ I believe you are from Kashmir. I have seen you coming to this park for the since last one week or so. Probably, you come after 7 p.m. Is it so ?”

“Yes, I am a Kashmiri. I come after 7 p.m. That is my time. I have no work but I am very busy. When I lived in Kashmir, I did almost everything myself and yet I was always free. That time, I did not think about anything and then I had not to wait. With advancing age, men like me start waiting and thinking and they become very busy. ”

 “ What do you think and what for have you to wait? “

  “ I keep going back to find out where I went wrong in my life. I seek reasons for this punishment and separation. Add to that, I keep opening my photo album and spend some time with it. Every photograph forces me to think and I keep thinking. You know every photograph opens floodgates of nostalgia and once opened, these doors or gates need to be closed as well. 

Here in our colony, nobody knows me. Nobody has any interest in people like me. For them, I am like a piece of dry wood, or a lifeless stone or a piece of broken and useless plastic. In these new housing societies, nobody except the watch and ward staff likes goodwill to be invested. What can you draw at the time of need if there is no investment? I mean the investment of time and goodwill. So nobody interacts even with his next-door neighbour. Under these circumstances, I have also learnt to talk, smile and weep alone. Now let me say about my waiting.

 Every morning, I wait for my turn to take a shower. I wait for my turn to read the newspaper. I wait for the tea in the morning. I wait for my grandchildren to come from their school so that we have our lunch together. I wait for them to finish their school work. Thereafter, I wait until they fall asleep. I wait for my son and daughter in law to come from their office to have my evening tea. I wait for months for some relation or old well-wisher to drop in.”

“ And what about Your wife. Is she alive ?”

“ She is very much alive like me. She is presently at Ahemdabad looking after the newborn baby of my daughter. My daughter and son in law are both employed. In old age, our existence and engagements depend upon the openings that are created in the households of our children. In these openings or vacancies, we are direly needed and sought after. If there is no vacancy it implies no work and no work means no utility. But nature is a great engager. It keeps creating openings and work for us. Currently, my vacancy is at my son’s place and that of my wife is needed at my daughter’s house. I can teach children and transfer knowledge. I help them to do their homework. I help them to have their lunch and I make them sleep thereafter for at least two hours. My wife is experienced in changing baby diapers. She is good at feeding milk to infants and cooking food. So currently she has a utility. You get my point. ”

“ Myself Bansi Lal Dhar. I am a retired principal. My son and his wife are in Dubai. I went there once for 2 weeks but somehow I don’t like Dubai. And then it is very hot. I have decided to live 
with my daughter here in Gurgaon ”

“I have heard everything is air-conditioned in Dubai. I mean the buildings, shopping malls, buses and offices. Does heat still create unpleasantness over there ?”

“ Come, sit here with me on this bench. I will tell you all. There is no need to hide anything now that we are friends. You see, as human beings, we face many types of heat. The heat from the sun, heat from the machines or electric appliances and intolerable high temperature created by living in Joint families. The last heat kills your peace of mind. You get my point. And then my daughter in law’s parents are living there helping them in taking care of my grandson. So lovely baby. Miss him. ”

“ What about your wife ?”
“ My wife died three years back. My son in law is a software 
engineer. He has recently purchased a three-room flat. I have one independent room for myself. My son in law has put one TV set with a dish connection in my room. So I am busy with TV serials, news and other programmes. My room has additional independent access from outside. I can come in or go out without disturbing others. My room has an attached toilet and a small balcony. My daughter is married to a Maharashtrian boy. Very gentle. His parents live in the US with his younger brother. So there is no problem for me over here. We have a full-time maid in the house. She cooks food for us and also takes care of my one-year-old grandchild. My daughter is employed in a multinational software company. Presently she is associated with some project. So currently, she works from home. That way she is almost in the house for the full day. So I have no worry or problem. ”

“Myself Bushan Lal' Three by Six'.”

“ What? ”

“ Three by Six ”

“ What is this Three by Six ?”

  “ 'Three by Six 'is my new surname. Are you surprised? Let me clarify. It is the size of the bed upon which I spend my time in the present house. 'Three by Six' is my world or my current space in the two-room flat that my son owns. You see Bansi Lal Ji, one room is used by my son as his bedroom; so forget about that room. Now remains only one 10 feet by 12 feet room. I along with my grandchildren sleep in this 10 by 12 feet room. If there is a guest in the house, he is also made comfortable in this room. My grandchildren use it as their study room. And Underneath this three by six feet bed, lies the suitcase that has my clothes, medicines and an old photo album. Now I am in love with this three by six feet bed. If your space is defined, you start getting used to it however small or troublesome it may be. And once you get used to something, you resist moving away from it or I should say you resist change. ”  

“ Are you comfortable in this little space? ”

“ What is comfort and discomfort I don’t know because I don’t live. I pass the time. And when you pass time, no line differentiates between comfort and discomfort. To live in this world, one needs to have freedom of choice. If you don’t have this freedom, you simply pass time. By this logic, most of us simply pass time. Bansi Lal Ji, I have yet to come across a person who is living. They may be busy or idle; they may be eating well or hungry, sleeping well or suffering from wakefulness, spending lavishly or living miserly and earning enough money or not earning at all yet I find that all of them are not living. They are simply passing time. They don’t know why they exist. You get my point. Yes sometimes in my sleep I feel a little comfortable when I see myself in the Dewan- Khan ( guest room ) or Kaeni( top floor ) or the Dubb ( attic ) of my house in Srinagar. But that is a world of dreams. The moment I open my eyes, this three by six bed
is the reality. ”

“ Where did you live in Kashmir? Which Mohalla? What is your family’s surname? 

“ I am from Kaarpora Khushki, Rainawari. Khushki means dry or patch of land distant from water. In Rainawari, we had Kaarpora Aabi as well. Aabi means damp or a patch of land close to water. There in Rainawari, I was known as Bushan Lal Tabardaar, Saakin e Kaarpora Khushki. Saakin means resident of or residing at. You must be knowing these Urdu or Persian words like Khushki, Aabi, Tabar( axe ) and Saakin, etc. Here it is neither Aabi nor Khushki and you will make yourself a buffoon if you say you are a Tabardaar ( a woodcutter or a man holding an axe ). It is simply 'Three by Six' .”

“ 'Three By Six' surname! I don’t get you. Never heard anybody having such a strange surname. How can it be a surname? ”

“ I have adopted it. This is my new identity. I have nothing to do with my old surname. It gives me nothing except embarrassment. My father would say the popular Persian phrase “ Dard e dandaan ikhraj dandaan ”. This means if the tooth gives pain, better get it extracted. Is everybody happy with his surname? Many would like to change it at the first choice if it were so easy. I mean the Kashmiri society in particular and their strange surnames. 'Three by Six' is better than many surnames like Mandloo ( buttocks ), Zaaroo ( gambler ), Zorro ( deaf ), Thaal-Tsoor (a man who steals plates ), Thaploo ( snatcher ), Gagroo ( rat ), Braroo ( cat ), Punzoo ( monkey), Khar ( donkey ), Shawl ( jackal ), Kaaw (crow ), Wangnoo ( brinjal), Mujoo ( radish ), Kakroo ( cock ) Sharabi ( alcoholic )and many more. Do I look like a bird or an animal or a vegetable? Do I look like a 
thief or a snatcher? Then tell me why should I have any such surname; somebody has to bell the cat for a change . Let it be me. I will gladly do it. ” 

“ Bushan Lal Ji you are being selective in listing surnames. We have other surnames also like Kachru, Shangloo, Khosa, Langoo, Wangu and many more. “  

 “ I will explain about Kachru ( a man with brown hair ), Shangloo ( a man with six fingers ), Wangu ( a man with bent legs ), Khosa ( a hairless person ) and Langoo ( a limp ). You can dye your hair and Kachru can have black hair with modern science. Every Shangloo can be treated by an orthopaedic surgeon. 
 A Khosa will no more be hairless if he visits a skin specialist. Langoo can be set right by orthopaedic surgery or artificial limbs. After all, these surnames were linked with our 
profession or how we looked or placed ourselves in that old social set up or how people ridiculed or made fun of each other 
. Now the entire social fabric has undergone a radical change. So let us forget all these surnames. Coming to Kashmiri society, in particular, a nickname became a surname gradually. Can you realize how rigid surnames have been in the past? Even after so many centuries, A Waza ( cook ) remained a Waza  
by surname or a Wattal ( sweeper ) remained a Wattal by surname even when they were high profile civil servants or headed as CEOs of some big companies .”

“What surnames should we adopt then? ” 

“ We should adopt newer surnames which are relevant in the present milieu. We have a variety now. We have a great choice now. Why not Surnames like Duplex, 3BHK, 2BHK, 
1 BHK, Indica, Chevrolet, Hyundai, Yoga, BP, Allergy, Nursing Home, Ayurveda, Health Insurance, Debit Card, Credit Card, Physiotherapy, Jaimala, Ring Ceremony, DJ, Dance, Food Stall, Buffet, Tile, Marble, Modular Kitchen, Basmati, Chakki Atta, Pizza, Broccoli, Mushroom, Burger, Microwave, Aqua Guard, Air Conditioner, Laptop, Pendrive, Online, Shopping Mall, Herbal, Organic, Speed Post, Amazon, Chivas regal, Three Tier, Two Tier, Metro, Passport, Visa, Flight, Green Card, Depression, Green Card, NEFT, Email, etc.? And I believe every society is bound to adopt these surnames now or later. Those who were forced to migrate out of Kashmir valley in 1990 under the shadow of a gun get the additional choice of surnames like Geeta Bhawan, Queue, Camp Purkhoo, Camp Jhiri, Camp Mishriwala, Camp Muthi, Camp Jagti, Camp Battal Balian, Camp Nagrota, Camp Bhapu Dham (Delhi), Camp Moti Nagar (Delhi), Camp Baljeet Nagar (Delhi), Gas Connection. School Admission, Application, Sanction, Rejection, Affidavit, Ration Card, Agreement, Power of Attorney, Tent, Heatstroke, Snakebite, Form D, Non-Relief, Voter List, Account Transfer, Bank Locker, SRO, Maharashtra Quota, Displaced, Migrant Quota, Ashram, Hawan, Puran Ahuti, Prasad, etc. We are more familiar with these words, activities and things now. These have become a part of our existence. What is the problem in using them as our Surnames ?. “

 “How can such things become a surname ?”

“ You are mistaken then. We have done it in the past and probably people have forgotten it. Tell me what is Pyaala ( cup ), Gadwaa ( jug ), Moza ( a pair of socks ), Dullu ( A big pot ) and Choncha ( Aa handle used in the kitchen ), Wakhlu ( small stone mortar used in the kitchen ) Achkan (a long coat ). That is why I say I am happy if I am known as Bushan Lal 'Three by Six ' .”

“You mean your children shall also adopt this surname .”

“ Children are masters of their will. Nothing can be forced upon them. Not even care and affection. They feel it as an act of control and command. We have love and emotion to deliver while they have logic and utility in their minds. It is a mismatch. You get my point. My Children and grandchildren are at liberty to move from 'Tabardaar ' to 'Three by Six'. I can only confirm for myself. I have already said that so many persons would willingly change their surnames if it were a simple affair .”

“ What is so special about 'Three by Six '?”

 “ 'Three by Six' is simple, straight and the final measurement of the minimum needed space by an individual under all situations  
; But I fear, over time, 'Three by six' may shorten to 'Thirty-Six '. ”

 “Thirty-Six! "
"Great! 'Thirty-Six' is a great idea Bushan Lal Ji. Kashmir’s Shaiv Darshana has 36 Tattvas that define the creation and physical reality. Thirty-six is also a sacred number for Jews. A great connect! “  

 “I don’t follow what you say. Then Chinese relish dried fish ( Hogaad of Kashmiris ), lotus roots ( Nadru of Kashmiris ), collard greens ( Haak of Kashmiris ) and many more things that Kashmiris eat . Is there a great connect with Chinese also? Coincidence does not establish anything. I don’t know anything about Shaivism. I am not interested in any connection between Kashmiris and Jews. Leave this aside, my optimism makes me believe that this 'Thirty-Six ' may not stay permanently with us. After prolonged usage, the word 'Thirty-Six' may further shorten to 'Thirsty'. And that should be a welcome thing for us. When it happens, we may have so many persons with “ Thirsty ‘ as their surname. Many people will adopt it instantly. Thereafter, names like Ashok Kumar ' Thirsty ' or Ashok 'Thirsty ' or some elder with Ganga Sagar 'Thirsty ' or Ganga 'Thirsty ' as his name shall be very common. Doesn’t word 'Thirsty 'give a feel and a purpose. And as exiles from Kashmir, we have been stressed to remain thirsty for truthful empathy and genuine attention. So, why dislike 'Three by Six ' that may finally settle at 'Thirsty'. ”

“ Thirsty is again a great idea Bushan Lal Ji. It conveys poetic pain. Doesn’t it look like a poet’s name? For the world at large, our progeny will be deemed poets merely by using this surname.”

 “At this stage of life, I have no interest in poetry or poets. Merely by calling himself a poet, no man is absolved of his basic responsibilities in life. Merely by writing poetry, he can not shut his eyes towards basic issues of existence. I don’t look at it that way. Yes, this world is going to be thirsty very shortly. This is something that is going to happen under all circumstances. We have done nothing to forestall it. We can’t avoid it now. Our rivers, wells, oceans, streams and lakes are all polluted. Everywhere this drinking water is getting costlier than milk or food. We may shortly ration drinking water. Human population, animals and plants shall be engulfed by this word 'Thirsty'. So 'Thirsty ' shall be a surname of future. Take my word .”

  “ I agree. Yes, this word 'Thirsty ' has the potential of Global surname. It can give any person a Global identity. Say after fifty years, here you will have Sanjay 'Thirsty ' while in Europe, You will find ' Robert Thirsty '. The world will come closer. This surname has flexibility so it will have adaptability and universal acceptability. While I agree with all that you say, I somehow tend to differ with something like a social withdrawal that you seem to be conveying even when you live in your own son’s family presently. ” 

“ What Social withdrawal? Say social reality. The size of the shoe is known only after wearing it not merely by looking at it. You get me Bansi Lal Ji “   

Bushan Lal Three by six and Bansi Lal Dhar started meeting regularly after that. They had come to know everything about each other. A friendship created by compulsions of passing similar phase or the time slot may not be constructive or lasting 
. It may be devoid of compatibility of minds yet the very sharing of time and space is bound to result in some connect however unfastened it may remain. Intellectual compatibility may not matter in such liaisons. It is like two unknown travellers of varied backgrounds, varied levels of education and exposure sharing a train compartment.  

Bushan Lal 'Three by Six' would leave the park exactly at 8.30 p.m. while Bansi Lal Dhar would stay up to 9.00 p.m. Bansi Lal 
Dhar had understood that Bushan Lal 'Three by Six' had no interest in literature, TV Serials or news. Other than that he had nothing to discuss. For both of them, sitting together even in silence was also a get-together and communication. A handshake, a smile and then sitting on the bench and then thinking about some common issue to be brought to discussion. Rarely they could find one. That is how their friendship moved ahead.

And then something unusual happened. For some successive days, Bansi Lal Dhar did not turn up. Bushan Lal 'Three by Six' felt worried. He decided to speak to him on his mobile. 

“ Is everything fine Bansi Lal Ji? I didn’t see you in the park for the last week .”

“ Yes. I have some problem. My daughter and son in law are moving to Australia. My son in law has got an offer from some overseas employer. My daughter is also moving with him just after 10 days. This flat they are putting on lease with some company along with furniture and gadgets. My son in law has spoken to the secretary and the president of the housing society. They are prepared to accommodate me in a 10 by 12 room of the Society’s office but I will have to work as an honorary accountant at the society’s office. The room has a small toilet attached to it. A tiffin man will deliver dinner and lunch. I need to prepare my breakfast. I need to buy a gas connection, some utensils, a small TV set, Beddings and a three by six folding cot. “

“ Folding cot! 'Three by Six '! “

“ Yes, 'Three By Six'. Henceforth call me Bansi Lal' Three by Six'. I am no longer Bansi Lal Dhar “

( Avtar Mota )

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

Creative Commons License 
CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\\.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.