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A story of every household: 
Departure
By SM Ahmad

The growing pressure of the boy’s parent on Rajab, Gajri to either agree to immediately perform the ‘departure’ (Rukhsati) ceremony of his daughters or get ready for cancellation of the relationship was justifiable. The relationships were settled with great expectations so he was feeling very dejected and distressed over the disruption in the relationships. But he considered himself responsible for this also. His continuous refusal to perform the worldly customs and traditions was a matter of annoyance and anger for his daughter’s father-in-law Samad But. He lost his temper and things had come to this head. 
Four years ago the engagements of Khalida and Suraiya to two sons of Samad Butt, Reyaz and Gulzar were performed. 

It was decided that the ‘Rukhsati’ ceremony of the brides will be performed with great pomp and show. Rajah Gajri was looking out for excuses for non-fulfillment of promises and was trying to gain time. The parents of the boys were finding it difficult to further tolerate the excuses for delay. Samad Butt himself narrated his helplessness and compulsions to his relative very gently and advised him to think in a suave and sensible manner. He tried to convince him that by his continuous refusal, nears and dears as well as strangers interpret things wrongly and in different ways, misunderstandings are being created and defamations are increasing. The honour and prestige of both the families are at state.

Rajab Gajri was silently listening to him, confessing and promising that only after some time Khalida and Suraiya will depart for your house in bridal dress. But all such promises ultimately proved mere deceit for Samad Butt because after long and short wait, Rajab Gajri again resorted to violation of promise. Samad Butt guessed that his tight handedness is responsible for his refusals because it is even otherwise difficult to meet the expenses of marriage through his small and ordinary shop. Though he arranged for the education of his two sons, Mujeeb and Raees with great expectations but instead of giving a helping hand to their poor father, they took to guns which made the life of Rajab Gajri even more difficult.

Samad Butt guessed that poverty and only the compulsions of poverty must be compelling his relative not to complete the worldly formalities. With this thought, he conveyed the message to him through Molvi Saheb that if it is only because of his tight financial position, he is prepared to be content with coffee only. Not only this, he is also agreeable to reduce the things, as far as possible, previously agreed upon for dowry. But delaying the ‘Rukhsati’ indefinitely just for nothing is not good for both houses.

In reply, Rajab Gajri said to Molvi Saheb ‘Molvi Saheb, I will give each and every thing. I too am a respectable person. We have to live and die in the world, whatever has been settled will be fulfilled. Even a pauper serves ‘Wazawan’. I have some problems. Let those be removed. Thereafter, with your blessings, ‘Rukhsati’ will be solemnized in no time.’ Molvi Saheb: ‘What kind of problems? On the contrary, all your problems and difficulties will be removed after solemnising the marriages. Brides will go to their houses and your liabilities will be over. There is no need to convince you that when raids are carried out at your house, how awkward is Samad Saheb’s position. He becomes very much worried, lest the chastities of his daughters-in-law should be subjected to mud slinging and your honour be defiled. Moreover, there are as many rumours as there are mouths which have to be heard by his wife and him. First, the dates had to be changed because of the arrest of your sons, Mushtaq and Tariq and now that they have been released by the grace of God and are engaged in trade, even though a small one. My advice to you is that instead of making excuses, fix a definite date and leave the rest to God. He is very sympathetic and helpful’ Molvi Saheb tried to convince him sincerely.

Rajab Gajri once again made a promise ‘Molvi Saheb believe me. God willing, I will very soon organise the marriage function. Samad Saheb has waited so long let him wait for a couple of weeks more. God willing, I will inform him about the final date through you after a few days only. Your coming here is most welcome. You just pray for the removal of my worries. Just apologise to Samad Saheb on my behalf with folded hands. I am sorry that I have broken my promises so many times but I am helpless. It is his gentlemanliness that he has been waiting for such a long time.

Molvi Saheb: ‘Anyway, As you like. I pray to God to remove all your difficulties and worries. But before going, I would request you to listen to what I am saying. Any further delay in the marriage will be very painful for Samad Saheb. He wants that the ‘Rukhsati’ of your daughters should take pace before shifting of ‘Durbar’ so that he may become free from the difficulties and worries. I need not tell you that Reyaz and Gulzar are busy throughout the day in office works in Jammu. When they return to their camp in the evening, it becomes very difficult for them to cook and wash themselves. Samad Saheb is very much worried about them. You should be happy that your daughters have been married in this well-to-do and respectable family. It is not proper to disregard such good fortune’. Saying this Molvi Saheb bade good bye, shook hands and went away.

Khalida and Suraiya were unaware of the worries of their father. They avoided telling and opening out their hearts to their father out of bashfulness. But they were unable to understand as why their father, who had flatly refused to re-marry after the death of their mother out of sheer love and affection for his daughters, is bent upon smothering the joys of his daughters. He had indulged in day dreams and fixed the marriage of his two daughters. Why then is he spoiling their marital lives by making excuses after excuses. Both these sisters, during meetings with their would-be husbands, had heard from them many complaints and unflattering words about their father. They also tolerated their tauntings about their father but they considered uttering any complaints and improper words about their father as insult to his love, affection and sacrifices. They silently listened to all their tauntings.

His sons were feeling suffocated. The atmosphere of the house was becoming intolerable for them. On many occasions they indirectly complained to their father as to why he is not disclosing to them the secret of his worries. Moreover, delaying ‘Rukhsati’ indefinitely tantamounts to mercilessly killing their sisters.

Trying to encourage their father, they told him that they are prepared to stake their youth for the sake of the happiness and joys of Khalida and Syraiya. They were prepared to sacrifice the amount of Rs. fifty thousand which they were trying to obtain as loan from the bank. Rajab Gajri was silently listening to their childish talks and complaints. Even then was trying to avoid disclosing the secret of his worries. His lingering worries, which were gradually affecting his internal organs, soon started expressing external symptoms. Various new diseases over took him with the result that he became confined to bed and peace of the house was shattered. 

Samad Butt, after waiting for a long time and under his own compulsions, reluctantly but firmly decided to terminate this relationship because even after a number of promises he failed to fix a firm date for the ‘Rukhsati’ of his daughters. Moreover, his multifarious diseases gave him further excuses for postponing ‘Rukhsati’. The Mohalla committee performed the formality of terminating the relationship of Khalida and Suraiya. All sympathies of the committee members were with Samad Butt. Rajab Gajri was taunted of being shameless, selfish and hangman of his daughters. The honour and prestige of his house was dashed to the ground.

Now demands were made for return of ornaments and other bridal gifts. Rajab Gajri became all the more disheartened and worried on account of these demands. The dragons of his diseases began to bite him all the mere in the form of ornaments. His sons were the helpless and silent spectators of the deep wounds of insult and humiliation of Khalida, Suraiya and their house. Khalida and Syraiya lightened the burden of their hearts by opening the flood gate of their tears but their brothers were wild with rage and sorrow when they read the insulting advertisement in all the newspapers.

The advertisement mentioned that at first Rajab Gajri deceived Samad Butt and now, in spite of unanimous decision and request of the Mohalla committee members he is trying to grab the ornaments given by Samad Butt worth Rs. 2 lakhs. After reading this advertisement, the brothers of Khalida and Syraiya lost their temper. They came to their father who was on his death bed and narrated the contents of the advertisement which was full of insult and insinuations. Rajab Gajri, weeping before his sons and daughters, laid bare in is weak voice the secret of his worries.

" Today……. today the honour of Rajab Gajri is really soiled. I wish I would not have remained alive to see this day. Listen my children. This unfortunate father of yours has always earned his lawful income, bore wounds for the sake of honour but never bartered honour. When your mother died, I brought you up, arranged good education for all four of you. I had dreamt of passing the rest of my days peacefully and comfortably. But all my dreams were dashed to the ground. 

Samad Saheb had perforce to cancel the relations. For this, not I but my sons are responsible. The advertisement of my insult is not a sore for me. I am innocent. My children, this unfortunate father of yours is innocent. Listen to me. When the task force arrested you twice, I was shown your faces after a long time. You had virtually became half dead as a result of interrogation. All their organs had become almost useless. They told me that that was my last meeting with my progenies. I was dumb founded. My senses were unable to work. 

I said that formerly my sons were crusaders. Now they earn their living by working as labourers. They said, ‘Old man, now pray for them. Tomorrow you will find them in their graves’. I cried, dashed my head and told them that both of them are innocent. Release them. They made fun of me and said that they are hardcore terrorists. We have received orders from above to kill them. Tell me, what do you want? I said ‘their lives’…. If you want their lives, how much will you give? If you give ten lac rupees, they will be saved. I said I earn even less than one hundred. Where from I can bring ten lakhs’…. ‘ Then get ready to see their dead face’.. ‘I can even give three or four hundred rupees’. No, No. you old man, you are telling a lie.’ I will sell my house’….’ ‘No’…. ‘Then what should I do…. I remembered that the ornaments of Khalida and Suraiya are lying in the house… ornaments……. And some more things, I thought that after selling those ornaments, I can get at least rupees two lacs. Samad ……. Samad Saheb had told me that the price of those ornaments was Rupees two lacs. I promised them for two lakhs. They became happy, and brought me to my house in their jeep. I took out the ornaments… and went to the goldsmith…. I got an amount of two lacs and five thousand. A big amount! I put these amounts in a big black envelopes and gave it to them. Now…..now…

Rajab Gajri started stammering. Khalida and Suraiya started weeping loudly. He again unfolded the secret of his worries to his children:

‘What is the use of crying. I gave them the money. Next day …next day they set both of you free. How would I have told Samad Saheb that I auctioned, yes auctioned the future of my daughters…. the marriage…the joys and pleasures… dreams, made too many excuses, told lies for a long time,… accepted the blame of broken promises.. continued avoiding every body…….. went on telling lies.. went on passing days.. years, went on making excuses… and breaking promises…. But the dream of ‘Rukhsati’ .. Rukhsati of my princesses…. Khalida… Suraiya…. ‘Rukhsati… cheating…Samad Saheb... bridegrooms unfortunate… father… worries.. bride…groom…

While stammering and repeating these words incoherently he finally breathed his last and his soul took ‘Rukhsati’, or leave, from his mortal remains. All his worries, wrapped in shrouds were buried along with him beneath tonnes of earth.

Khalida, Suraiya and their brothers were burdened with fresh worries as to how will they respond to the demands of their dead father, Samad Butt and Mohalla Committee? (translated from Urdu)
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