Prashant Mishra’s poignant story encapsulates a plethora of emotions and leaves the reader wanting for more.
I have been in my native village for the past few days. I will be leaving today for my nest in the city. I was here for my cousin’s tilak, which was yesterday.
He is two-three years younger than me and I am twenty-four. He often sits with me to speculate what the girl he is to marry must be like. He does that in a thinking-out-loud fashion. I infer his primary concern is how full her breasts are. He hasn’t met her yet nor has he been shown a picture of her; he would be marrying her in two weeks.
She has only been inspected by the women of our family and his father; they are the ones who would have to live with her after all. His father is appreciative of the fact that she keeps a ghoonghat long enough for him to not see her face but short enough to get him a glimpse of a little fat on her waist. “Ladki hatti-katti khae piye ghar ki lag rahi hai (The girl seems to belong to a well-fed family),” is the joke he proudly repeats to everyone who approaches him since that day. Each century has its ‘normal’. This did not appear to me as the ‘normal’ of our century. This belonged to the ‘normal’ of a century that was still ploughing our field with an ox-drawn wooden plough.