Meri Sali Ki Zulfain


Sheru’s friend constructed a new house a few years ago. After the family shifted to its new home, his sali (sister-in-law) came to help them settle down. She worked hard to make her sister’s house clean and tidy. Unlike other women, she used to bathe daily. She was given a separate bathroom. After a fortnight, Sheru’s friend found the waste pipe blocked. He was shocked. The plumber had assured him that the pipe would never choke.  He was furious, and called the plumber immediately. Sheru also happened to be there when the plumber was ascertaining the cause of the `blockade’.

 After an hour, the plumber took out a bagful of human hair. The block was removed and Sheru’s friend heaved a sigh of relief. He told Sheru that his sali had been using the bathroom for quite some time and her hair had blocked the pipe.

Sheru pondered. His sali’s zulfain (hair) were silky and shiny, and she would display them with pride. Normally suchzulfain would inspire a poet. But, shockingly the seemingly soft and shiny hair had blocked a pipe leading to the drain, rather to the septic tank.

In Chacha Ghalib’s times, there must have been special pipes to take care of bathroom waste. The Chacha was wise enough to skip mentioning pipes being blocked by silky and shiny zulfain. The buchies must thank God that the Chacha remained ignorant of a harsh reality.

Anyway, Sheru decided to secure his friends house in the future.

 Later that evening, when Sheru shared the dastarkhaan with the family, the sali had the usual pleasant smile on her rosy lips.  Sheru decided to give her the shock of her life.  “The plumber was saying that rough and coarse hair had blocked the pipe,” Sheru said. The smile vanished and her right hand went to her head. She left.

 Her sister collected the plates and went to the kitchen.

  “Your sali must be looking at her hair in the mirror,” Sheru told his friend.   He wanted to laugh but chose to give Sheru a smile only.

 The incident changed the sali. A few days later when Sheru went to see his friend, the sali came with a cup of tea. She had the usual smile on her lips but her head was covered.  She had perhaps decided not to display her `silky’ and `shiny’ hair. Sheru felt sorry for her. She is losing her valuable asset, slowly but surely.