Stories My Grandmother Told Me – 57

The grooms, adorned in madrassi turbans, sat on the first horses; the brides, covered in bright green shawl, on the second ones. The procession had traveled from Dawood to bring to their village two sisters from Koshay Daala. Our little village just happened to be on their path.

It wasn’t every day that a wedding procession passed through the village. They beat the hand drums, and the sound of the drums got closer and closer as they approached the pass. We heard the drum, and like the other young girls from the village, we rushed to the direction of the pass outside the village. We saw the first few horses leading the procession, and then people on foot and luggage loaded on donkeys. There might have been 30 people, all well dressed, but appearing tired and covered in dust.

d7684d5334a161630c02e18373d0bac341235374cdaa0c4f298e16dfa2421e91There was a tradition back then. Some kids held hands to form a chain and block the path of the procession to ask to be paid to allow passage. Some boys lit little fires on the path, and did the same. The girls and women of the village did not ask for money, but instead, they lined up and each asked to see the face of the bride as a charge for allowing passage.

We lined up, and waited for our turns. I was with my friends. We stood in the queue. Our turns came, we lifted the veil of the brides, looked at their faces, ran back to our own little groups, and spent the rest of the afternoon giggling and laughing about how ugly those two sisters were. We were kids, mean kids.

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Stories My Grandmother Told Me – 27

When I turned 9, like the girls of my age in the village and beyond, I had to observe fast. The boys had it easy; they could wait until they were 16 before having to do the same.

I was young, quick on my feet, and hence the family shepherd. Shepherding was exhausting work. I had to go up and down the hills all day, chase and look after the herd. It didn’t make fasting was any easier.

The summer days were long, the Sun shone bright and hot like the Sun of roz-e-qiyamat. You can imagine what it must have been like to eat and drink nothing from dawn to dusk. My tongue would dry up and stick to the palate of my mouth.

To avoid exhaustion, I dipped my feet in the cold spring water, and poured water over my head before heading back into the Sun. I wouldn’t dare drink water or eat anything, or even think about it. If I did, I would be punished by my parents, and bring bad name to the family.

SONY DSCAfter observing fast all day, we gathered around the earth-oven where my late mother baked bread. We quenched all that thirst and hunger with a piece of bread, and water. Occasionally, mother made tea. In that hot weather, we would rather have that than anything oily. For Pash-Shawi we would eat bread with yoghurt. The food in Watan wasn’t good or plentiful to begin with. By observing fast, we just made it so much worse for ourselves.

When I missed my prayers, or didn’t memorize and read it properly, my older siblings cursed me, and my parents got angry. They cursed and scolded me for defying the commands of God. We just blindly followed what we had been taught by the generations before us.

When you see people of the older generations with all the health issues, remember that it is a consequence of how they lived most of their lives in the mountains. In our youth, we didn’t care much for the pain and illnesses. Now that I am old, I can trace back all my illnesses to my difficult youth and childhood.

 


 

*Roz-e-Qiyamat = Dooms Day
*Pash-Shawi = Pre-dawn meal
*Watan = Homeland

Stories My Grandmother Told Me – 15

For a woman to survive life in the mountains, she had to be like a resilient man on the inside. The men beat up their wives over petty things, over nothing, often just to establish their authority, but usually to take out their frustration over other problems. There was nothing the wives could do about it. The villagers and the relatives always sided with the husband. It was a man’s world.

This one time, I was cleaning the cowshed, and I was annoyed that my daughters weren’t giving me a hand. I got cranky and scolded them. Your grandfather heard it. He yelled at me and called me over. I was terrified, and did not go. He broke a few branches off the nearest tree, rushed over to the cowshed, and began flogging me. He kept hitting me until all the sticks had broken into little pieces. I screamed, I cried but in vain. Once he was done, he left me alone.

Later in the day, my brother came over and saw my bloodshot eyes. He inquired if I had been beaten up. I was upset and said nothing. I was scared that if I told him anything, it would result in a fight between the two, and then between the two families, and the loss of my family. He understood and left. I followed him, and later found both of them sitting under a tree and talking. I was glad they were talking. I was upset no more and walked back home happy.

On another occasion, I was preparing a meal when your grandfather stormed in. He yelled at me and told me to stop cooking. I was startled, and didn’t know what was going on. I resumed cooking, but he stopped me. He screamed at me that he had been knocking the door for so long and I hadn’t opened it. He was furious. He took me by my arm, dragged me out, and asked me to leave, and return to my parents. I hesitated but he forced me out. I had to return to my parents. No one came for me. A day later I had to return to my children.

We quickly forgot it each time, and moved on. Your late grandfather was an angry man. He beat me up for minor things. So did all the other men. Often, we did not even know what our fault was.

Moral of the Story: Be good to your wives/partners/each other. If you aren’t, chances are your children will write anecdotes about it.