Sunday, October 25, 2009

Eka Daji chi kahani (Story of a son-in law)

Daji, the term itself tickles the funny bone. The fun stops there though. This simple, innocent term creates loads of negative energies for the bride’s parents. The entire family is supposed to be addressing the son-in-law by this, with lots of respect, of course, never mind how the Daji looks or behaves. It is particularly used in the northern part of Maharashtra and its mere utterance means, the girls family would start shivering at the same time, top to bottom, in unison, nerve by nerve. Imagine a family of parents and 2 kids shivering at the same time. Jeez, it is quite a scene. I have seen this with naked eyes and till date, I can’t stop laughing at the sheer fear the term generates.

Society, particularly the rural middle class treat their son-in-law’s as demi gods. This fear is so embedded in their genes, that the respect comes at a spontaneity and one does not have to rehearse it in any which ways. One wrong statement from the brides family and they are game for the rest of the life. "Daji rusley mhanjhe muli kadche phasle". This so called Daji would wait for an opportunity to throw a tantrum. Every one from the Daji’s family in-fact had the license to dominate the fearful bride’s family. The dominance is directly proportional to Daji’s education qualification. More the education, worser the tantrum.This forceful respect came more out of the fear that their ladli gudiya would have to sit at her real home (maheri), if Daji’s ego was left unsatisfied.

The tantrum season would start right before supari (engagement) but would gather vociferous momentum after it.  It would reach its pinnacle during Basta. Basta is event where bride, bridegroom, all parents, elders, relatives, distant relatives, kids, every one is supposed to shop for the marriage. After the shopping the clothes are tied neatly in a white clothe and then reopened only on the marriage day, I guess. This is a real event to flex muscles, display chauvinist power for Daji and his family. Daji has the right to break all the agreements which were made during the marriage talks and his entire family (distant relatives included) would get a chance to shop things which they always dreamed about. Any denial, non-approval of the bill from the bride’s family meant disaster which they could face immediately or later depending on the severity of the crime.

It is routine that the wife’s first pregnancy is an in-law affair for Daji. This basically means that the wife is brought to her parent’s home at 6’Th month and stays there as long as he wishes. This also means greater inconvenience for the parents because now, Daji could visit anytime he liked and every visit of his would mean lavish food and 5-star treatment with at-least one house-hold person accompanying, rather entertaining him at all times. Gosh, such an inconvenience. I remember a real life scene when a ruffled Daji was upset that he was ill-treated rather ignored by the in-laws while his wife was in labor for the second time. As usual, this Daji would not speak with anyone and declared that he would keep the new born and his wife forever with her parents. Looking at the grim situation, the parents had a routine shiver session followed by tons of apologies and promises. But this time it seemed things were completely out of control. Anticipating serious trouble the father came up with a solution which he thought would help cool down the matter. He announced insanely that he would treat his son-in-law like a king if they would be given another chance. Another chance meant another pregnancy! This word spelt disaster. Daji was left red-faced and embarrassed at the same time. Listening to that he went to a shell and I can’t remember how long it took them to make Daji happy again.I was laughing at the solution. So innocent, yet so devastating.

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