All of a sudden Breesi the sweeper stood up and stroke Ashmi’s top of the skull with an iron heeled sandal. He seized her by the hair and dragged her all along the room. It was the grace of God on her that Ashmi did not get fire on the clothes by the blaze of the open hearth and got ashed from head to toes. An earthen cauldron full of leg-meat was burbling on the chulha.
Ashmi broke to cry, “Hey! Isn’t any body any where? Hey, he is about to kill me. May he knock down and wither.”
Ho, may they finish for my sake. Whoever is yours any-where?”Breesi the sweeper said to her after spitting to the right and left. “Do you consider me powerless? You …..”
“Why did you mention them? Go and die for their sake.” Ashmi raised her voice louder than before. Do they come to bulldoze your chulha?”
On hearing the name of chulha, Breesi the sweeper recollected the cauldron of leg-meat and felt tense. He said to himself, “to-day we were to eat leg-meat after a long time but the witch de-prived us from tasting it pleasantly.” He said to Ashmi, “you do see early in the morning. I shall not be of my father if I will not divorce you”
“Ho, you are nothing. You are not suitable even to be the sacrificial animal for my grass sandal.” Ashmi said raising her eyebrows up and waving her arms. “I will prefer to be a slave to somebody and earn my livelihood. I haven’t lost my vitality?”
All the people living in neighborhood rushed in there. Salam the tanner came, Gula the flirty arrived, Noor kamal reached and
along with him all the youngsters and elders of the neighborhood rushed to the spot.
Khurshi the telltale came beating her bosom and saying, “Hey, Breesi what happened to you, see how you caused blood ooze from her top of her skull. Do you not have pity on her?”
Ashmi got strengthened and she said. “He is proud of his riches. Has anybody seen fifty rupees other than him? He believes that I have no option other than to stay here. Tomorrow I will get his senses cleared by my brothers. I am the sister of seven brothers.”
“Ho, fluterring sparrow” Breesi could not digest the warning and while twirling the fingers he said.
“O friends, what is the matter?” Noor Kamal initiated enquiry with utmost intelligence and said, “Will you tell us something or not? Ashmi, be silent now please”
“Shall I remain silent? I shall get him defamed in whole the world”, Ashmi said.
“Ho, who will you get insulted” Breesi angered again and he picked a ragged shoe to slap her with.
NoorKamal and Gula the flirty interfered and made him sit.
Breesi was suffocating. His face turned yellow like saffron and he sweated every hair. His hands trembled. His mind churned due to anger. Had oil lamp not been on the inbuilt upper shelf, it would have been trampled under the feet. The hookah had its pipe nowhere. The bowl broke into pieces. The little chil-dren raised hue and cry. Nobody was listening to anybody’s words. The only audible were abuses by Breesi and Ashmi’s full prepared and wholly uttered curses. Consequently Breesi turned to Noor Kamal, “Hey, oh friend of my boyhood, spit on my face
and say “you are immoral, you are telling lies.”
“Now would you tell anything or not” Gula the flirty said to Breesi while turning his moustaches. He was standing near the inbuilt-shelf perhaps rubbing fingers with wax from the oil lamp and then turning his moustaches. Yes, perhaps he was doing the same. Otherwise why did he stand near the oil lamp? All were sitting. He should have been sitting as well.
“Hey, what will I say to you” Breesi laughed a laughter of unfulfilled desire and said to him, “ some time before when we received pay , I told you that I had demanded Sultan the butcher two quadruples of sheep legs. … Do you listen?”
“Of course, I remember.” Gula the flirty witnessed.
“Be blessings on your life. Fifty rupees were received. Already there was Jamadar whom I gave two ru-pees. I wished to leave from the back door of the committee building and from there round the police lines via the backside of the tehsil office and reach home. There I had to give Gaffar the grocer ten ru-pees of goods. Haven’t we taken the goods for the month?”
“Hey, be silent and listen to the truth.” Noorkamal said, “I have decided that I will not pay him this month and flee from the back door. Later I shall think how I would arrange for the month?”
“Ho, may God bless you.”
But the pig had entered into the yard of the committee hall and as soon as I received the pay he shouted at me from the backside, “O Kamal. Hey Noor kamal come!”
“Let us be Devoted to God” Breesi Witnessed favourably and to the point and he was getting pleased for the same.
“Then how could have I behaved feigning unfamiliarity and denied. I told him to take the money right then.”
“May Almighty bless you” Breesi interrupted Noor kamal and said.
“I was caught by him as well in the same way, By God and By Prophet.
I took out ten rupees and put the same in his hand. Of course friend, again for the month we have to be before him with empty hands. What guilt the innocent did?”
All Okayed Breesi’s comments and Ashmi’s heart was on fire. If she could she would have extracted his heart out right then and fried it. She had pain in the top of the skull. She kept the sleeve of his Pheran under her head and lay flat. She was weeping .The tears were rolling down her eyes like the monsoon shower.
“Now these are ten” Breesi started telling loudly “Seven rupees were of Noora the grain seller for last month”
“Hey what are you saying to me I myself owe him. But he is kind I said to him“Hey respected Haji Sb I need money this month.”
…to be continued
ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR
Ashraf Raavi from Shopian is a poet, critic, fiction writer and translator. He writes in kashmiri,urdu and English languages.
The conscience of kashmir (English translation of kashmiri short stories of prominent fiction writers).
The discourse with silence( Translation of Satish Vimals tchopi seti kath bath. Adeebi sinz diary).
Gona saevi Gonmath….critical appreciation of some contemporary prominent kashmiri poets.
Asri afsana….being compiled