I and my “Adultery”
by Shriniwas Joshi
I heard a knock at my door. As I opened it, Thakurji instantly asked: “How is Umrekka-Shamrikka?” That was his style of greeting me after my return from the US. I used the American expression, “Doing good, green shoots are visible there after recession.”
We sat for little chat over a cup of tea. I do not know whether he writes his surname as Mehta or Verma or Chauhan but I call him Thakurji and he accepts it and addresses me as Panditji. He is my neighbour and an educated farmer who relishes interjecting self-tailored English in conversation. Spoken in Pahari accent, his English has a special tang.
I asked him about his welfare during my absence. He replied, “Happy – I and my adultery.” Observing the contour-change in my countenance he said, “Nothing to worry Panditji. Me Buddha (old) is adult and Buddhri (old lady in Pahari) is adultery. Ha! Ha! Ha!” His laughter was raucous.
I asked him whether he had ever been abroad. He replied, “This mouth and Masoor lentil. Farthest up to Delhi. I was cautioned beforehand, ‘beware of pocket-cutters’ there, and as I got down the Kalka-Howrah gaddi, I had one hand in my purse-pocket, jhola in the other and eyes on the coolie carrying my trunk. I could not keep the coordination for long and, in the effort, lost my jhola in station-crowd.
“Panditji, it was there that, for the first time, I felt census figures were right. So-o-o many people as if the world and his wife lives there. We Paharis are square pegs in round hole of Delhi – feel bad or good but, I say, Rajdhani is a big hole. If you have to fit in there, first be round and then go. I could cope with the hulla-gulla for two days only. So, I am a two-day Delhi returned hilly-folk, Panditji. That ends my travelogue.”
Knowing that he has studied political science and also has interest in the State politics, I asked, “How is your government functioning?” He replied, “Everybody is busy in straightening his own owl, the husband eaters.” I faltered in catching him and asked: “Husband eaters?” He said, “Yes, khasma nu khane.”
He was angry because it did not rain on time and his crops failed. He blamed the government for it. His logic was that when injustice increases on the earth, the God too indulges in injustices so that when life here becomes ‘solitary, poor, brutish, nasty and short’, Bhagwan takes the avatar and he believed that it was time for Kalki to come.
When he got up to depart, I asked, “Where to now? To bazaar?” “No Panditji, a Muslim priest’s run is up to his mosque. Going home to enjoy the ‘foods’ of adultery. Ha! Ha! Ha!” The laughter was raucous again.