Sheru received a shock Saturday morning. Sheru was taking an aunty to the airport to receive her husband. Normally, her father decorates the path leading to their house with coloured sawdust and limestone towelcome his daughters on their arrival in Srinagar. Sheru asked her why the path had not been decorated today. The reply shocked Sheru. “Decoration is only meant for daughters, not zamtur (son-in-law)”, she said.
Sheru has been saying repeatedly that anush (daughter-in-law) can never become a daughter. Similarly, the hush (mother-in-law) can never become a mother. Zamtur, as everybody knows, receives special treatment in susraal. But this aunty spoke her and her parents’ mind. “They do not treat the zamtur as their son,” she said.
Sheru was shocked, but started taking interest in the conversation, and made the aunty continue her tirade against thezamtur. She said: “Zamtur is pamtur (one who mocks at the in-laws. Even if you giverookhi sookhi (stale bread) to the son, he will never complain. But the zamtur raises his brows even if you feed him kabaab and chicken.”
Now this was too much, but Sheru digested it (though with difficulty). Sheru knows one of their zamturs well. One day he was supposed to have lunch with his in-laws. They had cooked mutton and chicken. All dishes were deliciously cooked. But, when he lowered his hand to the plate, he saw a fly in the rice. The fly had also been cooked, perhaps with the chicken. His wife was looking at him. Like a good boy, he picked up the fly and kept it on the side. He did not complain. His wife was delighted. She praised him for his humility and modesty. But the aunty was narrating a different story. Sheru decided to take up the matter with the father of the aunty.
Her husband had arrived an hour earlier. He had been waiting since morning. But, being a good boy, he too did not complain. Sheru was pleased to take him to hissusraal.
Tea was served. Sheru saw a kabaab on the plate. Fried onion was also there. Sheru’s uqaabi nazar looked for flies and mosquitoes in the onions, but could find nothing. Sheru cautioned the zamtur. He seemed less interested in the kabaab. He was busy with his new-born son. Sheru left after wishing him good luck. Back home, Sheru pondered and pondered. The mother-in-law takes special care of thezamtur but it is all dikhawa. She does not mean it. The zamtur can never become a son. He is a pamtur and nothing else. The sons-in-law of the world, therefore, have to keep their eyes wide open in the susraal. Do not get swayed by the sweet words of the mother-in-law and the saalis.
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