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I was returning from lundon. Two elderly Punjabi ladies were sitting in the twin seat ahead of me, ‘’ you live in London?’ asked one of them. ‘’no’’, said the other, ‘’I had just come here to meet my jatak.’’
Apparently they had not known each other before. But within a few minutes, they had exchanged so much informations about their families that it occurred to me as if they were about to negotiate on matrimonial alliance between one’s son and the other’s daughter. Number of children, how many married , how many yet to be married, extent of property, husbands’ occupation, names of aunts and uncles, fathers, grandfathers and their fathers and eventully they wonderful discovery that their great, greatgrandfathers were cousin brothers who had fought against the moghuls under maharaja ranjit singh- the two ladies were so much overjoyed that ignoring everyone else in the british airways aeroplane, they almost rose in their seats arid embraced each other.
‘’How was your stay in London?’’ asked one.
‘’Very fine,’’ said the other, ‘’my jatak speaks English phattaphat. If someone hears him without seeing him, he will take him for an Englishman. His work is also very vadiya repairs big, big cars in a garage.
‘’Englishman are very lazy. They don’t work on Saturday and Sunday. On these two days, cars come to his residence. H e repairs them there and pounds come to him in showers. He is bathing in money.’’
‘’Someone should be there for his dekhbhal,’’ suggested the one who had asked the question about the jatak, ‘’why don’t you stay on with him?’’
No behnji, no’’, replied the jatak’s mother, ‘my son has all along been pressing me. But I willnever stay there. There is none in London on whose forehead you don’t find frowns. Particularly these mems. The moment they would see me, they gave me the feeling as if I had set them on fire.’’
She then narrated some incidents. ‘’One morning,’’ she said, ‘’after taking my bath, I spread out the wet towel in the walcony for drying, no sooner had I done so than all the means tn the neighbourhood opened their own windows and started staring at me, as if I had taken away something from them.’’
‘’You should have also stared at them , ‘’said the jatak’s mother.’’ I am not the one to lag behind. But what can I do if the jatak himself does not like my staring.
‘’He does not even allow me to put mirch masala in meat. When I come to London first, I found to my horror that he was taking boiled meat every day. I just could not eat it. Totally insipid. I wondred what had happened to him.
‘’Next day, I cooked the meat my own way, like we do in Punjab, put a lot of ghee and mirch masala in it and I am sure he liked it. But he said that I should not cook it that way in future.’’
‘’He says,’’ said the jatak’s mother, ‘’the flavor of rich masala travels to other houses and the Anfreji people do not like it. To hell with them, I said, I am off to Punjab: I can not eat my food without mirch masala. And then I have to look after my own gharwala{husband}.’’



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