An acquaintance said the other day that Sheru was running out of ideas. He added that Sheru had been serving salads for the past sixteen years and had nothing left to offer now.
Sheru was shocked, not because the acquaintance said that Sheru had run out of ideas, but for other reasons. The acquaintance, as his remarks reflected, has been reading, or savouring, Sheru’s salads for sixteen years, and still it has not dawned on him that Sheru’s salads are based on real events. For sixteen years, Sheru has never written fiction. The salads, Sheru firmly believes, are a reflection of the society.
Sheru is not at all interested in dramatizing a situation. He writes what the society shows him. He feels what the society makes him feel. If the acquaintance feels that Sheru has run out of ideas, it is his problem. Sheru cannot help him.
Reacting to a salad seven years ago, a buchi said that Sheru’s salads were not based on reality… that Sheru’s salads were full of fiction. She had responded to a salad in which Sheru had written about a buchi and her beautiful little nose.
Some time after her engagement, the buchi’s in-laws had taken her to the Cheshma Shahi gardens. As the buchi and her zaam were having snacks, the mother-in-law-to-be had taken out a needle and pierced her nose. The sharp pain notwithstanding, the buchi had not been able to summon the courage to remonstrate with her would-be saas. The buchi was told to buy a beautiful gold tujj (nose-ring) for herself.
Sheru’s friend happened to overhear when the buchi recounted her ordeal to her friends at office the next morning.
And Sheru’s friend dutifully carried the tale to Sheru, and Sheru wrote it for his readers.
In a bid to present herself as a champion of women’s rights, another buchi wrote in anger: “How can anybody take the modern woman for a ride like this?”
Fortunately, Sheru’s friend met her at a function and put her doubts at rest.
But she kept wondering: how had the girl allowed 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. The crude reality dawned on her as soon as she herself got engaged. She too was taken on an outing by her in-laws. The modern bahu had been confident about the cotton suit she had purchased for the occasion. But her saas left her reeling with shock.
“yeh kya dastarkhwaan penha hai,” she snapped before replying to her greeting.
Dastarkhwan being the cloth-spread used for meals sitting cross-legged on the floor.
She was angry, but had to force a smile to her lips.
Meeting Sheru a few days later, the buchi meekly admitted that he had been right.