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Runa Bandyopadhyay



Runa Bandyopadhyay


The Bridal Ceremony Of Putli

The Bridal Ceremony Of Putli

12 mins 331 12 mins 331

Putli, yes, the conspicuously formidable Putli, is going to be married today. Who can think of it? When did that romping gamesome lass turn into a maiden of sixteen? Even a few days back soon after a northwester what an exhilarating sport it was for her to pick up mangoes in the mango grove of the grandfather Sanatan! Yet there are plenty of mango trees in the courtyard of their own house. So what? Is there any romance in picking up one’s own mangoes? To thieve mangoes in a group from the garden of other has its own thrill. At dawn they will have to venture stealthily. On their arrival their they will very often discover that, getting up early in the morning grandfather Sanatan seated at the postern door has been coughing on and on. To get into the garden by hoodwinking him is a challenging task. Holding the broken handles of the spectacles firmly he will cry out at once, ‘Who’s there? What do you want?’

If one at this time fails to reply properly, the entire plan will be spoilt. And in this matter Putli is an expert. Right at this time will come her irrefutable reply,

-‘Grandfather Sonu, aunty has summoned us in connection with the observance of some rite.’

-‘Rite? What rite, my child?’

-The rite is, I believe, about some childless affair.’

If one can tell this downright lie firmly, one is sure to achieve one’s goal. The old man has a firm faith in the observance of different rites by his childless daughter-in-law so that she can give birth to a child. No doubt Putli’s statement was out and out a lie. But the observance of rite regarding this particular issue is a matter of frequent occurrence in this house. As such the old man has no reason to disbelieve the statement.

In the morning Satyavati, the paternal aunt of Putli, was listening inattentively to the flute of the ceremony. Suddenly the thought flashed in her mind; today Putli will be leaving her own house to be the mistress of an unfamiliar family. Who knows what will be the ultimate fate of this unrestrained maiden? While being mercilessly attacked with insulting words by her mother-in-law she will perhaps find her life unbearably miserable. It happened only yesterday when she came to her aunt leaping and said,

-‘Do you know, Satu aunty, tomorrow I’m going to be married, whenever I think of it, I feel highly amused.’

-‘Why do you feel amused my dear?’

-‘Strange! So long I’ve indulged in fun and frolic in the marriage ceremony of others. Now it’s my turn – I’m going to be married. Benarosi sari, flower ornaments…look, Satu aunty, I’m getting gooseflesh.’

Keeping mum Satyavati began to think how she could dam this waterfall-like girl. How could she make her understand that marriage means not the ornaments, it also means a nexus of shackles all over. She embraced Putli with overwhelming warmth of love and affection and blessed her silently, however strong may be the bondage of your family let your mind fly like a birds with outspread wings forever.

Satyavati feels highly depressed as soon as it comes to her mind that the entire locality in the absence of Putli will be dull and dreary, it will miss all romance and sensation. She has left no stone unturned to convince Natunda, last brother of her, that he should postponed Putli’s marriage for at least three to four years, but in vein. He argued that he will not be able to find out such a learned son-in-law coupled with a high lineage for Putli anymore in case of delay. Satyavati tried to convince him that in the case of Putli there will not be any dearth of a worthy match. But he didn’t budge an inch from his standpoint. As soon as the lanky girl turned into a maiden her father started looking for a worthy bridegroom. Yet within that noticeably developed breast of that maiden there lives a teen-ager girl with all her antics. But who is going to evaluate this naked truth?

Just when Putli’s father had sat down with Putli to perform a pre-marriage rite in the corridor of the house, a cow somewhere started lowing. As soon as that lowing sound reached Putli she, rolling her sari up to the knees leave the prayer-spot and rushed to the cow-shed. All present there raised a hue and cry. When they reached the courtyard, they found Putli rebuking Kanai, helping hand of the family, saying,

-‘Will you not give me peace even on the day of my marriage? Haven’t I told you to feed my Dohai with straw cut to pieces before 4 o’clock?’

-‘Today I am little late, my little mistress. Promise I’ll not repeat the same’

Indeed it was not a serious matter, still it relates to a cow. Look at that cow Kali. She has given birth to an ash coloured female calf, and that calf was named Dohai. That Dohai with black deep eyes look for Putli, eagerly expecting her to come and fondle her with her affectionate hands. Perhaps you are thinking - how can a cow be named as Dohai? Eh! Is that a reason at all? Just raise this point of argument before Putli. At once there will be a tumultuous brawl –‘Why can’t she be treated as a human being although she is a cow? It’s my wish I’ll call her by the name Dohai out of my own pleasure. I don’t care a fig for your sarcastic smile.’

Because of his involvement in various activities, relating to marriage Kanai was bit late in cutting the straw into pieces. Who was to blame for this, Kanai or Putli’s marriage? Who was going to settle this dispute? When everyone was at a loss to think how to control the situation, it was Satyavati who came forward to solve the issue. Placing her hand on Putili’s head she said, ‘Well Putli, you are taking Kanai to task with your Sari raised up to your knees. Just think what you’ll do if your bridegroom reaches here at this very moment.’

It was an unfailing move to overcome the awkward situation. With her tongue brought out of the mouth Putli busied herself in keeping her disorderly Sari in order. Casting an oblique glance of wrath on Kanai she went back to the balcony to the relief of all. Once she set her face against the performance of rite everything will come to naught.

On the very marriage day of Putli, it began to rain in an unprecedented way. The entire courtyard turned extremely muddy. Before the arrival of the attendants of the bridegroom bricks were brought from the brick kiln and spread over the mud in the courtyard. In the evening the bridegroom procession reached the house amid torrential rain, mighty jostling and desperate efforts for shelter. In the meantime while blowing conch Putli’s cousin sister fell down flat on the slippery mud. Her meticulous dressing and make-up were marred. What a disgrace for her! At last cursing the showering sky she left the dramatic stage.

When the sweet smell of flower and oil smell of Luchi coupled with pattering sound of torrential rain and tumultuous uproar had caused the wind to blow gently, the ceremony of the exchange of garlands between the bride and bridegroom was completed amidst noisy fuss.

That was a remarkable event, indeed. During the exchange of looking at each other the more everyone is asking Putli to raise her head the more she became reddened with shame. Everybody was surprised. When and where has she felt ashamed?

The function in the bridal chamber was not a total success. When everyone in the bridal chamber was making fun with the bridegroom, the bride being extremely exhausted as a result of her involvement with the diverse bridal rites fell asleep by placing her head on the bridegroom’s seat. Nobody took notice of it. It was the bridegroom who first discovered Putli had fallen asleep. Placing his finger on his lip he asked everybody to keep mum and made Putli to lie properly. The woman gathering in the bridal chamber were taken aback to some extent and at last left the place, failing to make it thoroughly delightful.

Arousing Putli from her cat nap she was properly dressed and embellished again in the early morning. The sight of the youngest aunt weeping reminded Putli of the naked truth that she would have to leave her paternal home now. Her eyes were suffused with tears. Right at this time Sultan appeared from nowhere; she stood by Putli, mewing. Can Putli be content with only one pet? She has tamed a good number of pets. As Putli saw Sultan suddenly, it flashed across her mind that Sultan had not received her orts of food. Just try to understand the situation!

The fact is that Putli has to take a glass of milk every morning. She will swallow it after a great effort – sometimes while sipping it she will pressed her nostrils with her finger, sometimes again she will gulp it after a great deal of unwillingness. And that Sultan has to wait for some milk from the morning. But who is going to think of Sultan? Sultan can only share this milk when Putli’s mother will go out of sight. Pultli thinks that she may be a female cat – an inferior animal. But is that the reason that she will have no appetite? Satyavati winked Patla to bring some milk from NatunBoudi, wife of the last brother. When Putli was handed a glass of milk, she contracted her nose at first. Putli having lifted her head, Satyavati showed the cat by means of her wink. Putli couldn’t believe that. She was at liberty now to feed milk to Sultan in public! Was it, then that significant event of the exchange of garlands last night had promoted her to such a higher post? Yet her tamed cat was unable to understand the naked truth that her mistress embellished with ornaments was leaving for her new home, she was forsaking her forever.

Putli’s make-up completed, the blessing rite started. The person who first came up to bless her was the grandmother of her father. She is a voracious reader of stories and novels. She has the habit of discovering the plots of Ashapurna Devi’s novels in the nook and corner of a family. Placing the spectacle hanging from her nose in order she lifted up the face of Putli and said,

-‘Putli, how much will you love your mother-in- law?’

-‘Why, I’ll love her as much as I love you’

Such type of frank reply can only be expected from Putli. In her nature there is no dearth of love. Putli’s great grandmother indulged herself in still more amusing remark,

-‘And how much will you love your bridegroom?’

-‘Tut! Tut!’

The last person who came to bless Putli was her grandfather. This grave-natured teacher can only be discomfited by this youngest member of the family. Though he will not have to submit to that indomitable Putli anymore, the thick glass of his spectacle became hazy quite unaccountably. Rubbing his eyes with the end of his dhoti he said,

-‘If Brinda falls ill again who will nurse her now?’

-‘Why, I’ll nurse her?’

-‘You’re leaving for the house of your father-in-law, my darling’

-‘So what? You’ll go to bring me.’

It was a clear-cut reply. Whenever Brinda, a daughter hailing from a Hindu schedule caste family, falls ill Putli nurses her. Putli doesn’t understand the complexity in this plain fact. If that is the bar to the Brahmanism of her father-in-law, she doesn’t care for it in the least.

The time of Putli’s departure for the house of her father-in-law by leaving her own came up unnoticed. Putli could by no means be agreed to give the ceremonial gift of gold according to the Hindu rite. Keeping some rice, money and gold bit on a plate a newly married girl at the time of leaving her home for living in the house of her father-in-law henceforth will have to say, ‘I’m paying off the debt for bringing me up with food and clothing so long’. Putli is the first girl in the family to protest against this inhuman custom. Everybody in the family raised a hum at this negation of Putli. The timely intervention of Putli’s grandfather saved the situation somehow. He didn’t want this protest to reach the house of her father-in-law before her arrival there. Only Putli’s grandmother, striking her forehead with her hand commented, ‘The future of this girl will be inevitably miserable’. Satyavati who had stood beside Putli’s grandfather said,

-‘You’ve built up Putli with your affection and ideals. Then why should you be unnecessarily worried?’

-‘A strange agony ails my heart. Will the son-in-law be able to evaluate Putli properly?’

-‘well, tell me one thing. In her sixteen years of life have you found any person who hasn’t love Putli?’

-‘That’s true’

-‘Then? Then why will the members of the family of her house-in-law be an exception?’

The argument of love as put forward by Satyibati stopped the headmaster from negative thinking. Placing his hand on Satyavati’s head he said, ‘May your tongue be blessed’

Before her departure Putli with her short slow steps went to Satyavati. She was bit puzzled. She apprehended that Putli would say now, ‘I’ll not go.’ But proving her apprehension totally baseless she said,

-‘Aunty, please look after my Dohai. See to it that Kanai feeds her just in time’

-‘My dear Putli, you needn’t worry, I’ll see to it that your Dohai may not be put to any trouble.

-‘Please convince my Lalu and Sultan that, although I’m leaving the house they’ll remain in my memory all the time.’

Though the matter of conversation with the dog and the cat appeared somewhat absurd Satyavati assured her saying, ‘The rest members of the family will remain in the house. Don’t be anxious for your pets.’

While wiping her tears with the end of her Sari Putli bowed down to the feet of the elders. At last compelling all the residents of the locality to shed tears, Putli left for the house of her father-in-law. The entire house with the invited kith and kin looked awfully deserted. NatunBaudi today wouldn’t have to shout for Putli who used to wander about the whole locality during midday authoritatively and undauntedly. This girl, who used to pretend as over-matured expert, used to indulge in bickering for pleasure, since, from now on they could miss this pestering. Is it that, as they would miss this pestering from now on their eyes were softened with tears? They were wiping tears from their eyes secretly lest their tears should bring misfortune in her married life. The trees in the courtyard seem to be shedding tears on the pretext of pattering rain-drops. All day long the restless lass would climb on their lap-like branches to carry on her dare-devil activities. Today Putli has departed her paternal house to fill up the empty lap of an unfamiliar household. Do they also feel their lap to be vacant without her?

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