A beautiful buchi had a sweet little nose, but there was no ruang in it. Friends repeatedly urged her to get her nose pierced for a nose-ring. She hated the idea itself, not knowing that so-called high caste women wear it necessarily. Fortunately or unfortunately, the buchi got engaged into a high caste family. Her prospective mother-in-law told her in clear terms to get her nose pierced. The reluctant and defiant buchi ignored the order.
One day in-laws-to-be took her to the Cheshma Shahi garden. While the buchi and her zaam were having snacks, mother-in-law took out a needle and pierced her nose. The buchi felt the pain but was not bold enough to annoy her would-be saas. The buchi was told to get a beautiful golden tujj (ornament) for the nose. She narrated her woeful tale to her friends in office the next morning. Sheru’s friend was also there. She transmitted it to Sheru, who reproduced it for his readers. In a bid to present herself as a champion of women’s rights, a buchi responded to Sheru’s salad.
“How can anybody take the modern woman for a ride like this?” Fortunately, Sheru’s friend met her in a function and apprised her of the development. She was surprised and shocked as well. How did the girl allow her saas to pierce her nose without her consent?
The poor buchi did not know that the saas could do anything to the modern bahu and the crude reality dawned on her as soon as she got engaged. After engagement, she too was taken for an outing by her in-laws. The modern and confident bahu had purchased a new cotton dress for the occasion. The saas shocked her.
“yeh kya dastarkhwaan pehna hai?”
Dastarkhwaan in Kashmiri means a cloth which people spread on the dining table or on the floor for meals.
The buchi blushed to her ears. She was angry, but had to force a smile to her rosy lips. And, a few days later, ever-patient Sheru heard the story in full, and in first person
Sheru feels sorry for all women who are taken for granted by the saas. They are tortured and humiliated, but the `modern woman’ sheds a few tears and that is it. However, there are exceptions. Another high caste buchi got married to a high caste groom. Her saas would serve rice to her in a steel plate. The rest of the family would eat from copperware. One day the buchi was brave enough to protest. The saas was rattled, but the bahu got her copper plate. Hats off to her.