Baier Kaeni: Peek into the Past

Baier Kaeni: Peek into the Past

Never try to outsmart your elders

Learning is a life long process. Some parents want their wards to learn every thing quickly, and if they are slow, parents use very harsh methods, often devastating the psyche of children. This obviously is not good. But invariably our elders are correct, though there way of dealing with kids may not be, but we as kids do not appreciate it at that age.

Here is an incident of my childhood, which I remember  so vividly even after half a century. This incident, though apparently so bizarre, made me to learn a very hard lesson in my life at early childhood, which went a long way to keep me on track; despite my rebellious nature. As I never forgot the thrashing I received at the hands of my disciplinarian grandfather, for interfering in the lifestyle of elderly people or attempting to change their way of life.

Some fifty years  ago, I was a student of class seven & my uncle was reading in class six, as he was younger to me by one year. Those days it was common to have younger aunts or uncles, as family planning was not in vogue among middle class families, as it in now. Since my uncle was junior to me, so I was the boss outside and my uncle would readily accept any commands, that I would give at play or at home, in absence of our elders. However, my position would be that of a junior, as my uncle was after all son of baad-mauj, the Grandma. What a strange predicament for children born in same house of two mothers. But thank God it never bothers a carefree child ever, as to whose son he is. So it never bothered me as well, though it sometimes would pinch me to find special favour being bestowed on my younger uncle, in small matters. But all said & done, I would take it in my stride sportingly, though often with bruised psyche. It was in this atmosphere I grew up giving shape to my individual  personality and I realised hard way, as it does not often matter much whose child you are. What matters most is who you are and what you stand for. After this digression, let us come back to our revolutionary thinking of yore.

Just five decades before, the people in Kashmir were, and some even today are, too traditional in their approach to life, very conservative, and loathe change. They would  not readily accept new ideas, or new way of life. It was common those days to store all unserviceable  household items in the attic – the Baier- kaani – as it was called those days. Attic used to be a dwelling place for cats, who would often be seen jumping, from 3rd storey of one house to another house in down town Srinagar, in search of food. So attic is called cat attic in local lingo.

This baier kaani was the store house of all antiquity & unserviceable items like, old shoes, old mats, earthen ware, dried vegetables & host of other used items, which were often of little or no use at all. Yet people would preserve these so religiously. An old grass mat  ( vagouve  ) may be used on special occasions like wazavaan for the wazavaan to sit on it and munch meat, so would be dried vegetable used in harsh winter.  All this I would understand, but I would never understand  what use is an old pair of shoes & I refused to accept it to be put in unserviceable stocks as souvenir, as I would  see no future use for such items. To my amazement there were about one hundred pairs of these, which mostly belonged to my grandfather & other elderly uncles. I thought it was all dirty junk, which need to be discarded instantly. So, I ordered my lieutenant, my junior uncle to get ready for cleaning operation, which he readily and willingly accepted. We both set to change the thinking of our elders, and to say goodbye to their conservative and hackneyed ideas. We started throwing all these shoes, earthenware, and whatever was useless, in our thinking to store. And we threw it from dub- the balcony, of third storey of our house, right into the backyard, in absence of our elders during fag end of our winter holidays; much to our delight and amusement with  every bang of falling objects. Among the thrown out objects was a toe twisted Zari-paizar, which probably belonged to wedding ceremony of my grandfather, besides several toe twisted heavy oily paizars, all belonging to my grandfather. So satisfied and joyful were we that Stalin, the despot ruler of Russia would have not been so happy after he banned nomads of Dagistan,  not to lead nomadic life and ordered their flocks of sheep, horses and camels to be slaughtered, so as to force nomads of central Asia to live a settled life.

It did not take a century to set our revolutionary thinking back to right track, as was case in Russia. They thought of undoing Stalin’s communist ideology after 70 long years, when they pulled down his statue in Leningrad . Our FATOOR, was driven off in a few  hours, when in the evening my grandfather returned. He came to know about our errand. He soon summoned both of us and sought our explanation as to why we had done all this to his sacred things. Then my uncle explained that he did it at my instance. Scene at that time was as grim as that of Aazar calling his son Abrahim ( peace be upon him) as to why he broke idols. No argument convinced idol worshippers. In my case my argument that I threw only useless things fell flat, under the gaze of my uncles and all elders of family members present, till suddenly I felt a thud of a  large paizar -shoe- on my head. Sending me flat on ground with dizzy head.  Little do I remember, how many more thuds I received  with that shoe all over, till some members intervened and saved me from the clutches of angry grandpa. In all this, I learnt a life’s precious lesson. Not to force our ideas on others, especially on elders. I learnt hard way, to respect life style of older generations, no matter whether we understand their logic or not. I wish we would not criticise our elders at home, challenge their lifestyle and thinking but rather respect their values and learn from their experiences. Never attempt to change thinking of the older generations, per force, but if we genuinely feel to change them for good, we need to invent polite means of convincing them.


Author is Rtd  DIG Police
dargaaliasamin @