|Dahej - The Dowry|
I smiled and asked her, “Why? Why you want to know that?”
She replied, “Nothing, just want to know?”
I said, “Nothing. I earn nothing.”
In her cute little demanding voice, she uttered, “Bhaia, Don’t you dare to fool me, I know you earn a lot.”
It tickled me but holding on my laughter, I told her, “Babu, I am telling you the truth. I really don’t earn. I am currently a Begaar.”
She got lil’ angry, she was lil’ confused and at the same time, she was looking so damn cute. Then after a minute of baffling with her thoughts, she questioned, “Begaar, what does begaar means? It is some kind of job you do.”
It tickled me again and I started laughing.
Looking at my laughter, she asked me again in her meeking voice, “Come On Bhaia, tell me, do you have a job or not and what does this begaar means?”
I stopped laughing for a bit and told her, “Begaar means padha likha berozgaar, (an educated unemployed). And I am currently a Begaar.”
She continues, “ohhh…. but how you got me this amazing bike.”
I smiled and said, “Hmm. That’s pretty good question. But you need to tell me first, why you want to know, how much I earn?”
She blabbers, “Actually, I want to know, what should we need to give you, Actually Mamu got a car and lots of things, when he married Mami, and I want to marry you, so we need to give you something.”
As she blabbered all this, I burst into the laughter, and I kissed her on her cheeks.
I told my ma and chachi (aunt), “look what she is saying?”
She innocently reiterated herself, “I just said, I want to marry, Bhaia”
As soon as she uttered those words, we all burst into the laughter.
And when I told them about the dahej thing, we were literally rolling on the floor.
Palak, my adorable 7 year old blabbing cutie pie. And me and ma were at Chachu home, to celebrate her birthday. After all the laughter, and everything. When the party was over, Palak’s innocent blabber was matter of discussion.
Me and Ma were in the metro, heading back home, but we were still laughing on what happened. Ma poked me, “Aur bata beta, dahej me kya lega, (Now tell me Son, what do you want in dowry?)
Ma and me both burst into the laughter but suddenly I realized Palak innocently blabbered something serious? She was talking about dahej i.e. how a seven year old kid can talk about such a thing?
I asked Ma in serious tone, “Ma, She was talking about Dahej, how a seven year old kid can talk about dahej and all.”
She replied, “I don’t know. Maybe she heard about it somewhere.”
She paused for while. And I was too wondering about somewhere and as soon as I was going to speak, she continues, “I think she heard somewhere at her Mama’s marriage, and then you know your chachi, she may be blabbering about dahej and all in front of the kid. And I thought, this is where, she got dahej thing in her mind.”
The dahej thing made me feel bad and I started looking outside through the window pane. The lights. The traffic. The darkness. Everything was beautiful. But this thing that a seven year old is talking about dahej still giving me goosebumps.
Ma tapped on my back, and asked, “What happened?”
I replied, “Nothing. Nothing at all.”
Ma said, “I know, what happened? You are still thinking about Palak and Dahej.”
I nodded in approval.
Ma teasingly, “Chal koi baat nahi, hum teri bahu se dahej nahi lenge (we will not ask for dowry from your bride house).”
I said, “Ma…”
Ma replied, “See. I know it’s kind of bad. But it is what it is. And you can’t change this thing. You can’t change the society. It’s kind of social compulsion. All we can do, do our bit and encourage others.”
After a minute pause, she poked me, “Ab mood kharab mat kar, mujhe apni chhoti si bahu ke liye shopping bhi karni hain (Now don’t spoil my mood, I need to do shopping for my little daughter-in-law)”
And we laughed again.
But Palak’s words are still piercing me, WHAT SHOULD WE NEED TO GIVE YOU BECAUSE I WANT TO MARRY YOU.
Image Credit: Prathima