Wednesday, November 12, 2008

THINKING OF HAAUU !

November is here and brings along chilly mornings and cold evenings.The woolens are still not out in their entirety, but a thin shawl is the order of the day.Getting out of the cosiness of the bed in the mornings is becoming an increasingly difficult exercise.Day's first cup of tea loses its heat fast and I have to settle for a second one in quick succession ! I sit cosily wrapped in the warmth of my shawl, fingers clasped firmly around the tea mug and as I look out into the view from my cosy little balcony, the mind wanders off to winter mornings decades ago when I was a schoolgirl in Jammu.

Suddenly Haauu comes back to life in my vision in the flashback. Haauu was a thin, small woman, around fifty years of age.She was our domestic help.Years of hard work and toil had wrinkled her face, although her hair was still jet black, not a single grey strand there.She came originally from Bilaspur, miles and miles away from Jammu.Her husband had left her and their three sons for another woman years ago.
Devastated and left alone to fend for herself and her children, Haauu left the shame and poverty of her village one fine day and came looking for better prospects in Jammu, where many of her village folk did small and menial jobs.

Ours was many of the households that Haauu did domestic chores in.Early morning tea with us after finishing her work was almost a daily ritual.And many a winter mornings, she would regale me with stories about her ' des ' (village) in a strange sort of dialect which I didn't understand much.Neither did she understand my language much, yet, quite strangely, everything got communicated and understood. To everything that I said, she would nod her head and with a big smile, say 'haauu' (yes !). That was how we started calling her Haauu ! Her original name was Phoolbai.

Haauu told me stories about the river ' Mahanandi '(Mahanadi) flowing by her village and menacing tales of the river's fury during the rainy season. She told me stories about her husband and his family. Her poor parents had married her off when she was a little girl.And as she would drift off in her mind to those blissful early days of her wedded life, her eyes would gleam and the smile on her face would widen a hundred miles.Haauu's husband was a much older man,yet she loved and served him wholeheartedly till he dumped her for another much younger woman.The glint in her eyes would now get clouded by the shadows of sorrow and mouthing choicest abuses against her husband, she would bravely fight her tears back.

Haauu always wore a thin saree tied a few inches above the ankles and wrapped just a torn shawl around her slender shoulders even in the harshest of winter months.She wore no socks, or rather, could not afford a new pair.I did once give her an old pair of mine, but she never wore them herself. Ever the sacrificing, suffering Indian woman, she gave them to her youngest son.She wanted him to study and become a babu when he grew up.She kept him away from the sweat and toil that she and her other two sons endlessly went through.She had high hopes from the youngest and was terribly heartbroken when she discovered that her 'bitwa' had fallen in bad company and had taken to excessive smoking.

I saw her last during one of my trips back home.She had grown further old and I could see a few silver strands also in her hair , but her smile was as charming and disarming as ever.Bitwa was a fully grown man now and yes, he could not become a babu.

Very recently, I went to Chhattisgarh for a pre-election opinion poll and as our flight hovered above the jungles and villages of the young state, I thought about Haauu and her village and the fury of Mahanadi.

8 comments:

virma said...

sheetal ji, amazing peice of writting once again. things you wrote are really touch the heart. you interpretation and interlinking of various aspects of our lige and time period is quit appreciatable. keep it up. you wrote after span of 2 months please write regularly.
thanx
RAM - JNU

Tara Chandra Gupta "MEDIA GURU" said...

seetal ji. very good . but i hope write in hindi.

Dev said...

Sheetal its nice to see on blog world
Keep writting...
Regards

www.creativekona.blogspot.com said...

Sheetal ji,
Apne apane bachpan kee yadon ko itne sundar shbdon men sanjoya hai,
ki ye lagta hee naheen ki ham is varnan ko blog par padh rahe hain.Aisa lagta hai ki HAAUU(Phoolbai)ekdam hamare samne khadee hai.
Aksar hota ye hai ki hamare jehan men bachpan kee kuchh dhundhali yaden basee hotee hain ....jinhe hum thoda bahut bata sakte hain.pooree tarah naheen.
Doosaree bat ,apne phoolbai ke madhyam se ek chhotee hasiyat valee stree ke oonche sapnon aur unhen poora karne ke liye uske dvara kiye gaye sangharsh ko likha hai.Meree hardik badhai.
Kabhee samaya mile to mere blog par aiye. Main duniya bhar ke bachchon kee behataree ke liye ek chhoti si koshish kar raha hoon.
Hemant Kumar

Naresh said...

Sheetal ji nice, we feel happy after reading haauu Because it is
beautiful descriptiopn of your childhood,s memories. The important thing is that while
living in outside of your home town even you have remember jammu and its culture....
from:- Naresh (kathua)J&k.
media.naresh@gmail.com

Naresh said...

Sheetal ji nice, we feel happy after reading haauu Because it is
beautiful descriptiopn of your childhood,s memories. The important thing is that while
living in outside of your home town even you have remember jammu and its culture....
from:- Naresh (kathua)J&k.
media.naresh@gmail.com

gagan said...

Sona ha ap
Likh ta ho or wo bhi luv able
But urs voice cant be traceable
U speaks it seems to b true
Gud to hear urs voice
Maam for ever luv urs voice
Regards

gagan said...

Sona ha ap
Likh ta ho or wo bhi luv able
But urs voice cant be traceable
U speaks it seems to b true
Gud to hear urs voice
Maam for ever luv urs voice
Regards