During my childhood a family came to stay in our midst adjacent to our house. They were from Aligarh. I was told he is my uncle. Accolade ‘uncle’ during those days was reserved for uncles only unlike today when every stranger is called uncle while real uncles have become strangers. So this uncle of mine had many things, in a way, common with us. We were four brothers and a sister. They were four sisters and a brother. It was so very amusing to watch the only boy in the family emulating his sisters and talking (about himself) in feminine gender. I wonder were they so short of names that he (uncle) too was my father’s namesake. Chacha ji worked for AGCR. He was extremely frugal in his habits and knew well how to go about leading a simple life. He would cut Lifebuoy toilet soap into two halves; some how he believed that this will make the cake of soap last longer. The subject matter of my tale is not my uncle. It’s his younger brother Braj Kishore, again chacha ji, for us kids. He was a fashionable Youngman looking for foothold in Delhi. He could not be called tall but he indeed was dark and handsome. He did his law and afterwards became P.P. (Public Prosecutor). Like any ‘lively’ Youngman of his time he too had hobbies such as P-3 Poetry, Photography and Pining (for romance.)
I recall, influenced by latest film of my matinee idol Dev Anand I brought no less than three check shirt pieces. My mother sensing something amiss suitably chided me. Chacha ji, promptly volunteered to take (buy) one piece but not for stitching shirt, guess what? That was the unkind cut, for using it as ‘lungi’—the wrap around. Kishore in Braj Kishore means adolescence and indeed if Dev Anand was forever young, Chacha ji was forever adolescent. He was nicknamed Braja and continued to be affectionately addressed so by elders and his close friends.
I was one of the invitees in his marriage in remote Aligarh interior. Sitting on the horseback decked in groom’s finery he asked me to direct the light men (the guys carrying petromax lamps in the procession) to walk in a straight line. Such a meticulous man threw all caution to wind once he got posted in Gujarat. The cupid hit him hard with sharpest arrows emptying entire quiver. Forever adolescent that our man was.
During his PP (Public Prosecutor) days in Ahmedabad, our man BK ‘fell’ head-on in love, with a Gujarati lass. It turned as serious as both walking hand in hand to the altar, taking holy wows to live and die together. Having done that there was no deterring back from their resolve, although in the process both bore the brunt. Physical and mental assault not only near and dear ones but from the onlookers as well who believed, to protect morality is their prerogative and they must perform their role to the hilt. BK was so full of life. He would take care of his health, do regular exercise much before it became fashionable to talk of physical fitness. A well informed and fine conversationalist, he could strike right cord in you. He was a lovely company.
With the other woman constantly breathing down the neck so close, her presence could be felt by the entire household even when she was not present. Physical assault, public humiliation and threats from ‘unknown’ callers did precious little to shake their determination to stay together through all thick and thin. Funny things happen; when a man enters into an extramarital relationship the boy’s folks think this must be the innuendo and misdemeanor on girl’s part. While girl’s kith and kin believe it must be the ‘Casanova’ unbridled who must have allured the innocent girl putting our family to such unprecedented ill-repute. So, while BK’s brothers pretended to maintain dignified silence, BK’s wife’s brothers after hearing their sister’s plight could not control their rage. They rushed to the house of his paramour and they assaulted her with physical and verbal onslaughts humiliating her in the full glare of colony’s residents. Little did this help. If at all, it worsened and made both of them firmer in their resolve to ‘live and die’ together; come what may.
In times to come and with growing age, the rage subsided. The wife No.1 resigned to her fate and thought it to be her lot being illiterate, poor and economically dependent could do little to change. Wife no. 2, in times to come bore and sired BK’s children. They say more you try to change things more they tend to remain the same. History repeated itself despite best opposition by BK, his sons went on to choose their own life partners through what in India is referred rather loosely as ‘love marriage’. Daughters’ marriage did pose tough problems to BK. Anyone who knew BK, knew his entire life’s story and his wayward ways. A classic case of children paying for the sins of their parents.
Last heard BK had two houses one each in Mehsana and Ahmedabad for his two wives, a real life case of one man torn apart between two worlds. However, Braj Kishore, must bravely reminiscence ‘Dil le gayi kudi Gujarat ki’