Friday, May 15, 2015
Old Kaki (बूढ़ी काकी)
Old age is generally a relapse into infantilism. Old Kaki had lost all interest in life except her craving for food; and was left with crying as the only means of attracting others’ attention towards her suffering. Her senses, her eyes, her hands and feet had fallen into decrepitude. She would stay lying on the floor the whole day; and if the householders did something against her wishes, or she did not get her meal at the appointed time or in adequate quantity, or she was not given a share of the eatables brought from the market, she would break into wailing. Her crying was no ordinary thing; it was a full-throated outburst.
The story presents a stark contrast to ‘Doodh Ka Daam’ (The Price of Mother’s Milk’) which I had posted before this story. In that story the untouchable boy, Mangal, feeds on leftovers (joothan) from the zamindar’s family everyday, and the family of the zamindar consider it a generous act on their part to allow the boy to eat the joothan. The horror of seeing someone feeding on joothan just does not occur to them. It is something normal for them. In this story, 'Boodi Kaki', the upper caste family treat the old family member, Old Kaki, shabbily, they almost starve her. But when the house lady Roopa sees the old woman eating Joothan she is shocked beyond her imagination. A brahmin woman eating joothan! Look at her reaction, highlighted by me in the translated text above. It is as if the heavens would collapse if a brahmin woman ate joothan. An untouchable eating joothan is normal for them. How forcefully Prem Chand is able to convey this contrast!
Posted by tcghai at 10:58 AM