Have you met Khanna Didi?

8:26 AM

During the marriage of my close relative, as I walked upstairs the narrow staircase I realized something was seriously wrong. A crowd had gathered talking in miffed voices. The source of the bottleneck was not visible from behind the crowd and hence I had to step up on my toe to peek. I was not surprised to see Khanna Didi standing on the topmost landing, hands folding behind a bunch of giggling girls looking very serious. After overhearing some gossip I realized, the groom and the bride had arrived home after a tiring day spend in their marriage. While the groom was looking very curious about the night to follow, the bride just wanted to rest due to pain in her back from touching the feet of countless relatives.

But their anxiety was to overcome the barrier called Khanna Didi, who stood guard at the gates of their solace. She wanted to take some cash reward from the groom as it was the family ritual after every marriage. Poor groom, his wallet was buried somewhere beneath the clothes and mess of the house but Khanna Didi won't listen. After all for her a ritual was a ritual and she was its lone guardian.

Khanna Didi is a public character. Very few people know of her origins or her life but you will often see her around sometimes talking in loud voices or scolding someone or 'suggesting' someone how to behave properly. Once in a while she builds the family tree and then it is her job to talk to the younger people on whom to respect in the family tree.

"But i am your distant sister," she announced last Sunday on her surprise visit. Surprisingly, her surprise visits were not any surprising anymore. Ever since she moved in the neighbourhood she would delicately give surprise visits to our house every Saturdays and some Sunday's. These visits were not only visits but every week she would expect her to be treated like a royalty. "I am your distant your sister and this my right to demand anything from my brothers. Now treat me and my kids pizza for dinner."

Khanna didi is a cultural masterpiece. She is a walking talking 'Indian culture for dummies' handbook. She by hearted the entire existing and non existing cultural rituals. "What are you wearing!" she exclaimed as I stepped out in my cargo's, "in our culture married women do not wear such clothes. And why have you cut your hair so short. Married women in our culture tie long plates. Where is your sindoor, I don't even feel you are married". After series of one sided questions cum allegations like Arnab Goswami  she turned to my mother without waiting for me to reply,"See i had told you, you should have not let your only daughter wear jeans like boys in college. In our culture girls should not go to college in the first place. That's where you went wrong."

Khanna Didi takes her unappointed job very seriously.  She invites herself to dinner just to inspect if every happens according to the culture. A small deviation from the culture can result in a massive avalanche of questions, suggestion and sometimes, without provocation, scoldings. But when her culture comes to throttle her down or when she misses something mentioned in the culture, all she does is giggle upon the mistake and moves on sneakily without anyone noticing.

This lone guardian of culture is sometimes laughed upon behind her back, her suggestions lie undusted hanging in the air and her recommendations are trampled upon by passerby everyday but she still gives a fight nonetheless because giving up is not part of Indian culture.
This is my Khanna Didi whose #ConditionSeriousHai. Post written for Indiblogger and Cadbury 5 Star.

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