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Jalandhar

Posted at: Apr 17, 2018, 1:55 AM; last updated: Apr 17, 2018, 1:55 AM (IST)KL SAIGAL PUNJABI RANG UTSAV

Tale of a woman sacrificed at the altar of family’s honour

Tale of a woman  sacrificed at the altar of family’s honour
Veteran Punjabi artiste Jatinder Kaur performs during the play “Eh Gallan Kade Fer Karange” at the Saigal Memorial Hall in Jalandhar during the Punjabi Rang Utsav. Tribune photo: Sarabjit Singh

Aparna Banerji

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 16

A young girl haunted with rejections while seeking a matrimonial alliance; a highly respectable, flower-fearing man- a daughter-murderer – the kind who ‘innocently’ prays to God to grant him strength to kill his own daughter for loving a lower caste; an abandoned woman-ridiculed, lusted after, burdened with work and then asked to seek refuge in God after having forsaken at the altar of matrimony; and a child-bearing machine – a woman forced to mass produce kids until she produces a male – suiting her family – constitute the four lead protagonists of the explosive play “Eh Gallan kade Fer Karange” staged during the ongoing KL Saigal Punjabi Rang Utsav held in the city.

Directed by Kewal Dhaliwal, the play written by Swarajbir hits at the very core of the ills of Punjab – loaded with satire – it unveils layer after layer of patriarchy even as the audience twitches and the women empathise. It’s a story of the evils lurking within our villages and cities – among the elite and rustic alike.

In the first act ‘Pasand’, Mandeep Ghai – an eternal reject by prospective grooms, is at receiving end of ridicule and chiding from her parents who blame her for not being liked by the nice, choosy men. In an act of rebellion she decides to vest the final word with her.

In the second monologue the respectable Ujagar Singh, a high caste Jatt, now in jail for killing his daughter, recalls the agonising ordeal his life became ever since his younger daughter “Choti” arrived into the world and how his honourable dream crumbled ever since she set eyes on a low caste boy. He and his son – younger than his scandalous sister – tried to convince her to forget him, but unable to do so, the duo hit her on her head.

The girl was fond of planting little flowers in their backyard.

As he later recollects in pain “Main putt chahunda si, par eh jamm pai – ose din maar dena chahida si (I wanted a boy but she was born instead – I should have killed her that very day). He is also haunted by smells flowers, henna and blood – phullan di, mehndi di, lahoo di khushboo. He pants, “Main izzatdaar banda waheguru phullan di khushbo kitthon aundi hai?” (I’m a respectable man God where does this smell of flowers come from?)

The role of Jatinder Kaur is a revelation. The immense courage in Kaur’s act lies in the fact that she makes us forget that ‘Guro’ is a character. The way she makes love to her pillow, blushes at the mention of her childhood sweetheart and tearfully laments her first beating by her husband denotes an extraordinary empathy for her character.

Abandoned by her in-laws at a young age, because her husband’s uncle insinuated “School vich kise munde naal rali sain” (she was associated with a boy in her school days) and her mother-in-law believed she was a “sukki khui – eh janani kis kamm di” (dried well, good-for-nothing woman), she became a by-word for abandonment at her village as women covered their children’s faces from her and men deemed her their own.

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