Thoughts & Ideas

Monday, June 09, 2014

On the Breaking of Inhibitions

We used to consider our late mother as the epitome of orthodoxy and conservatism. For example, leave alone inter-dining with members of other castes or religions, she used to frown on the idea of partaking kuchcha khana  with members of other  kayasth sub-castes, specifically Ambasthas.

It so happened, that my mother became acquainted with the wife of one of my father’s colleagues who happened to be of a different religion. This acquaintance slowly turned into friendship, and then into deep friendship. But generations of orthodoxy and conservatism is difficult to erase. So whenever Mrs. A came visiting, my mother used to offer her water, and tea, and snacks on a special set of china-ware which was washed and kept separately and used only for guests of other religious groups.

And whenever my mother went visiting Mrs. A at her house, she avoided partaking any food or drink under some excuse. I believe the main pretext was that she was fasting. I suppose, Mrs.A realized the charade but as a decent human being played the game along.

One hot, sunny, summer afternoon my mother and Mrs. A were walking back from some social engagement and Mrs. A’s residence happened to be situated before our house. Since it was scorchingly hot, my mother decided to stop for a few moments at Mrs. A’s residence. There Mrs. A very hesitatingly offered my mother a glass of water with the words, “Mrs. Prasad will you at least have a glass of water?” (Pani tho pijiyega?) There was no way, my mother could say no and she relished that glass of water as no other.

The ice was broken, and thereafter, my mother had no problems eating or drinking at Mrs. A’s place. The excuse she always gave us was, Mrs. A’s place is very neat & clean,  better than a Brahmins! We used to tease her every time my mother made a fuss on matters of caste or religion by reminding her of Mrs. A. But she could never really erase her prejudices other than for Mrs. A. God bless Mrs. A and her family.