Folk Tales from Kashmir

Table of Contents

  Twin Scientists
  Daddy’s Distress
  Breaking the Horse
  She is the Apple of My Eye
  Daddy’s Coronation
  The In-Law Tussle
  Broken Pen
  The Dudda
  Daddy’s Nightmare
  Rise and Fall
  Rivalry and Rebuff 
  Mini Marco Polo
  Royal Dudda
  Facing the Challenge
  Yes, No? May be So
  Crest Fallen
  Shock Treatment
  Grandma’s Shivratri
  Conquering Death
  Prickly Thistle
  Book in pdf format

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



Chapter 6

The In-Law Tussle

Kumar and Kamla, husband and wife, hail from a middle class family of Karnahpuri, Kumar has taken service in the government of the time as a Clerk under a Tehsildar who incidentally, happens to be a landlord possessing a vast tract of fruit garden. Kumar also helps his boss in horticultural work. He is quite efficient in office work and very knowledgeable about horticultural science. Naturally his boss is satisfied with his work both in his office as well as in fruit growing business.

Kamla is equally intelligent and proficient in her domestic chores. She is a typical Kashmiri Pandit woman. She does not spare any pains in keeping her better half comfortably happy and at ease at home. As soon as Kumar returns home after strenuous official and extra official work at the Tehsildar's gardens, she washes his feet and legs with warm saltish water. This is followed by welcome beverages, hot tea and fruits of different kinds. This done, Kumar relaxes on a warm bed in winter and under a gently rotating fan in summer. This done, the whole family of husband & wife, sons, daughters’ sit together for dinner before going to bed. Similar comforts in the morning before official attendance are their daily routine. The couple really considers itself as the two halves of the same body. No wonder, therefore, that the couple's emotions, thoughts, and feelings are alike. They marry off their daughters in different villages and are left with only one son, Keshew. Paradoxically, at the same time, Kamla is cringing in so far as the certain percentage of savings is a must for her, come what may.

One fine morning, on a holiday, while sitting in their lawns, Kamla says, "Dear Swamiji, Kanwah Krishen of Magampuri is a Dy. Commissioner and a wealthy landowner. He has a beautiful, grown up, healthy girl quite suitable for our dear Keshew. He has requested for a "Techni" of Keshew for his girl. Should we supply one to his middleman who may be coming again for it tomorrow? "Kamla dear, I cannot aspire for any better choice than yours. Do please entertain well, the go-between and supply him this 'Techni'. Do not forget urging him for an early response."

Teknies are tallied, horoscopes exchanged and betrothal ceremony performed followed by a pompous marriage ceremony after the girl and Keshew approved each other.

Time passes by, Keshew and his wife Koshaliya bear two sons and a daughter, and their children grow up bright, quick witted and intelligent. Meanwhile Koshaliya's three brothers and three sisters get married and bear children in turns. Family relationship grow and frequent visits and return visits also become the order of the day.

Kumar dies and Kamla. deprived of his pay incomes, is left alone to look after the family with the help of her son, Keshew.

Kumar and Kamla used to regularly lay by a certain  percentage of their total income against the rainy day. Kamla in her discretion and consultation with her son, Keshew, discards the concept of percentage but insists on depositing the previously fixed total amount in lump sum. The arrangement continues for a couple of years or so. Since the family is deprived of a substantial amount of money earned by Kumar, the spending capacity of Koshaliya decreases. The constraints are more pinching to Koshaliya when visited by her own kith and kin. She feels embarrassed and let down in their presence. She pleads with her mother-in-law about it time and again, But to no purpose. Kamla's reply would invariably be, "Dear Koshaliya, we have three children to bring up, educate and settle in life. Unless we look ahead and provide for it now, how can we meet the huge expenditure at the proper time?"

Koshaliya appeals and entreats her, only to reduce a small percentage of their savings to provide for their better living and entertainment of guests saying, "Mother Kamlaji, I request for only a very small reduction in savings and its adjustment towards the domestic expenditure. This will enable us to kill two birds with one stone. It will prove a little more nutritious food to us and at the same time to maintain our status in society together with the provision for the upkeep, education and settlement of our children in life."

But the miserly, cringing mother-in-law, Kamla is too shrewd to agree. She replied, "Dear Koshaliyaji, life is mercilessly harsh. It has many facets. We must always be prepared to face it boldly. Our present day savings alone will enable us to do so bravely. Do please compromise with lesser spending.

Koshaliya reconciles herself with prevailing conditions for sometime. But, in spite of her endurance, her embarrassment and humiliation shadow her all through and all over. Its intensity enhances on her visits and return visits to or by relatives. The contrast of entertainments hurts her ego. The simmering antagonism comes to fore front every time.

At last, Koshaliya reveals her just to her spouse, like his parents, Keshew considers Koshaliya as his better half-- two halves of the same body as per the Hindu tradition. Taking advantage of Keshew's deep love for her, KoshaIiya says, "Dear Swamij , you and children often complain of improper nourishment. You often show signs of passitude and tiresomeness, as do our children and even our mother, Kamlaji too. We are glad you are getting' a huge sum of money as bonus and simultaneous grade promotion. "

"Yes dear, that is true. I shall get it shortly in a couple of month’s time, "replies Keshew.

"My dear, I have a suggestion to make. Will you accept it ? May I express my desire?" says Koshaliya. "Yes dear, do please say what you want to say, what makes you think, I will not accept it?" replies Keshew. " O, my dear Swamiji, I expected your reply. Let us add a bigger drawing room to our house worthy of our new status. At the same time let our monthly savings remain at the present level as desired by mother Kamlaji.And ------ And ", mutters back Koshaliya.

"Yes dear, why do you stop? utter what you want to say. I heartily accept your first proposal and will certainly agree to your second one also," replies Keshew.

"My darling, how I love you' you know how we are honorably treated and entertained' by our relatives, kith and kin whenever we visit them. " Says Koshaliya.

"Yes darling, I do. What makes you say so?" replies Keshew.

"Since the death of our father dear, Pt. Kumar Sahib, our hands were tight. We have been compelled to curtail our expenditure and observe austerity and restraint in entertainments of any sort. I would earnestly request you to allow your increments for better food and reciprocity of entertainments according to our Status". Suggests Koshaliya.

"All right my darling, let it be as you desire," replies Keshew.

Keshew in turn also consults with his mother and brings her round to the decisions already taken.

The previous glamour returns to the family now. There is resumed the earlier hustle and bustle due to visiting guests as before:

All such entertainments are held in the new drawing room. After sometime, the grandma, Kamla begins to feel embarrassed in the new situation. She often grins within herself, "I have now become redundant and a non entity in my own home. She thinks."

She adjusts herself perfectly, often retiring to her bed-cum-sitting room in the second storey of her house  This she gradually and imperceptibly hangs into her permanent habitat. She keeps herself engaged in knitting and sewing clothes. She is provided with her own sanitary arrangements. Also, she comes down to the ground floor at meals and teatime only, (four times a day). Sucha voluntary confinement accelerates her ageing process and she becomes weaker and weaker to move about. As an obedient and affectionate daughter-in-law, Koshaliya serves her (Kamla) well and feeds her as usual in her sitting-cum-bed room.

Foot Note: Read also Story no. 18 entitled 'Shock Treatment’.


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