Ten years ago, Sheru wrote about a modern buchi whose mother-in-law-to-be took her to the Cheshma Shahi gardens for a tete-a-tete. While she played the perfect sharmeeli sub-continental dulhan (bride), the zalim saas took out a needle from her hand-bag and pushed it into her nose, making a hole big enough to hold a tuj (nose ring).
The buchi pushed her long nails into the lush green grass to control her anger and also to overcome the pain. The saas was khandani and wanted a bahu with a ‘wounded’ nose.’ Interestingly, the buchi was known for her outspoken behaviour and would often take up cudgels with authorities on behalf of her colleagues and friends. But her saas made it amply clear that she that she was, and would be, her boss.
A buchi known to Sheru almost lost her mind after being rejected more than fifteen times. She too was a kalakar but had to eat a humble pie every time people came to see her.
One day two veiled women were seen in her locality, making enquiries. They found nothing adverse. But girl’s single-storey house did not suit them.
“They must be poor,” they told a neighbour.
A few days later, the locality received a couple of visitors more.
“There is no space for parking in their house.”
What were they looking for, by the way? A parking lot, or a suitable match for their boy?
It did not stop at that. Two women entered the girl’s house one fine morning. One of them wanted to go to the washroom.
“It is not aesthetically done,” she told the other.
For want of an aesthetic washroom, the girl was rejected.
By then, her family had decided to add two more floors to their house. One day while masons and carpenters were at work, a woman stepped in along with her husband.
“What do they need such a big house for? It seems they will force our son to live with them after marriage.”
Earlier the girl had been rejected for living in a single-storey house, and now she was rejected for not living in one.
One family decided against her because they wanted a working wife for their son. Another wanted the girl to learn driving.
The girl received a shock one day when the middleman asked her to wear an abaya.
“A woman from a religious family is coming to see you. Please put on an abaya today,” she was instructed. Did she have a choice?
And when after a day-long wait, the muhtarma finally arrived, she was not even veiled. The girl took a good look at her long and polished nails. The abaya did not work. The “lady from the religious family,” perhaps, wanted a modern girl.