Dewan House  -   Down the memory lane  by Ravish Bahadur (Tare Sahib)

Part III   Cousins   Merry-making Years

There never was a dull moment in DH. With two score and more people staying together there always something happening either some function or some guest visiting DH but the atmosphere was always of joy, talking, friendly arguments etc. There were always 6/8 people of the same age  in each group  but the  bonding  was very good among all.

The first marriage of our cousins comes to my mind is of Krishnajiji (Daughter of Shri Partap Bahadur) in 1948 or 1949 around the time of historical group photo but definitely before 1950. It was a big event and we all got new achkan(Sherwani) and topi for the occasion tailored out of the same cloth and were given some coins to give to qawwals performing in the marriage and after a few years of Neelamjij (Daughter of Shri Shyam Bahadur). The DH was decorated with buntings and the usual crockery being Pattals ( Plates made of dhak leaves) and earthen tumblers, cooking utensils big ones were collected from known people if not available, only vegetarian food. There were no caterers like we have these days. The sweets used to last for many many days.

Life was easy and simple definitely not complex like today. All had not more than 3 or 4 sets of dresses, one  pair of shoe but sharing with each other very common and accepted not like today`s culture of my and mine.  We had known no other living. Even the girls and ladies had no complications like matching dresses with the result, dressing was multi-coloured. Everything, dresses, money,  variety of food etc. were limited but the happiness and satisfaction was unlimited.  Every year around five cousins each used to appear for Board examination of High School or Intermediate and some were unsuccessful but celebrations and disappointments were forgotten soon and everything would be normal. It was total community living where happiness and grief were shared. We used to pool our money together and buy 32 samosas fried in mustard oil with extremely chilly and sour green chutney. Bicycles were shared and mostly go to school on foot. Events like going to the cinema, only one picture hall, or going to annual exhibition (Numaish as it was called) were a celebration thoroughly enjoyed  with wearing best of clothes  and polished shoe. Cinema halls had  ladies section for ladies and you could hear ladies crying. We were always out to enjoy among ourselves by way of say; watching guests, their mannerism, way of talking and any weaknesses etc like stammering, repeating pet words, off course among ourselves and recounting to others, how everybody was facing monkey menace,all old and young were involved, kite flying, watching pet pigeons being given exercise by the person looking after them.

What I am writing here is only to sort of  recreate those time as per my perception and certainy not to bring down anybody and in case anybody is hurt my apologies are  offered.

Summer vacations were the best times when there were no schools, lots of visitors, Shambhu Sahib (Shri Surrendra Bahadur 4th son of BP) used to come during these times. Shri Shiv Bahadur ( Bare Lalla Sahib) also used to come as he was working in a sugar factory, a seasonal factory.

Bare Lalla Sahib had a fetish for being always well dressed and in summers it was always wore white. He used to spend quite some time every on maintaining the same and always had 6/7 pairs of shoes well polished placed on a loft (Corner room near the well) much to the delight of Achchey Mian and others. Even in 1991 when he was fairly old, we all had assembled for the sale of Bareilly Kothi in Bareilly, though he was staying with NeelamJiji some distance away, he visited us at 7 AM for a cup of tea, he was dressed in white T-shirt ,white pant, white socks, white shoes and P-cap with a baton, he never compromised on such matter. Later we met him later at Neelamjiji`s place, he was dressed in white Kurta Pajama. He was an example to all on personal appearance.

Shambhu Sahib always had a captive audience and had a lot to talk about Bombay and lot of important locals used to come to meet him. He was very smart  and well dressed, a delightful personality to relate to and get along. He had seen extreme ups and worst down in life but never gave up against any odds or gave up his sense of humour. You can read much about him in this site also.

Another of my cousin at whose expense we had a lot of fun was Rajjan Sahib ( Shri Rajendra Bahadur, son of Shri Partap Bahadur) He was very good person, good personality but very simple, undiplomatic like most of us in those days, most unworldly-wise , honest and could trust anybody. Among many others I will relate only three instances. RS was Power of Attorney holder of all uncles to appear in various court matters as he was working in the factory near to properties and also young to run around. Once the Advocate wanted to put him the Witness Stand and had tutored him well in Q &As in the presence of BP. On the appointed day RS started speaking the truth and not what he was taught much to embrassment of the Advocate and ignored the prompting of BP. Outside the court BP started reprimanding him and asked him why he did that. RS most innocently replied that the Advocate never told him that he will have to swear by GITA leaving BP stunned and quiet. All litigation was in Bareilly court may be because of zamindari matters and BP used to wait for RH`s return in the evening to know the latest. In the second instance, BP was waiting for him very anxiously as he was getting late for the club and pacing the courtyard. At last RH came and as per his habit he would park his cycle , say salam, go to the toilet go inside the house and then come out after a few minutes. BP asked him strongly `what happened`. RH `when I left the house my cycle got punctured after a furlong (RH stayed with his father NH in Panwaria Colony) and at 6 in the morning there was no shop open and I had to take the cycle to the mechanic`s house to get it repaired`.  BP even more strongly `what happened tell me` but it had no effect on him and he continued `I raced to the station, deposited my cycle at the stand and caught the train at great risk as it had started moving out of the station, it was overcrowded and could not get a place to sit. BP again~What happened Rajjan` but it had no effect on him. RS ` The train reached half-an hour late and I was hungry and had not taken any tea. I went to the famous halwai shop a had puri and jaleb then rushed to advocate`s house but he had already left for the courts. I moved from one room to another but could not find him`. BP` patience was now at its nerves end`Tell me what happened?` RS found him under a tree talking to somebody and told me that the case has been adjourned to another date.` BP `Could you not tell me this earlier`. RS  `If I had told you that earlier then who would have listened to all this.` Much of he fun is lost n translation. Lastly when he came to Delhi for the tilak ceremony of Shakuntlajiji in perhaps 1962, I went with him to Ajmal Khan Road as he wanted to buy a `Loafer` shoe as `mocaison `were called in those days. I t took us three visits and intense bargaining before purchase at Rs. 20 or so. In the evening we al went to old Delhi for the ceremony. As he had to perform the rituals he was ahead of us and we all were sitting on the floor. After sometime he looked back to me and made some expressions which I could not understand then I went near him he said very quietly `Keep a watch on my shoes`.When I look back now thinking of those times it gives a lot of joy although all these were small matters.

There is lot to write about others but shall do the same some other time.

In the next article I shall be writing about Achchey Mian and others without which the history of DH would be incomplete.