Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sushma-1-In the beginning There was a Pooran Mal

My father Shri Kailash Chandra Bansal was a resident of Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, India, and my mother, Saraswati Devi, was the resident of Bulandshahar. her father's name was Jiwan Lal Agrawal and he was a leading advocate of Bulandshahar. His house (Kothee) was at Kala Aam.

In the beginning, there was a Pooran Mal. He lived in Kole Tahaseel of Aligarh District. Since the higher education was not available in that Tahaseel, he used to come to Aligarh to attend college. He studied Law and became a famous practicing lawyer. He earned a lot of money and settled in Aligarh. He built a house in Mamoo Bhanja Muhalla of Aligarh. He had two sons - Shri Minni Lal and Shri Niranjan Lal. His both sons were also lawyers. Later Shree Niranjan Lal built another house in Delhi Gate area of Aligarh (in those times it was the outskirts of Aligarh) and shifted there from Mamoo Bhanja. Mamoo Bhanja house (or so called Havelee) was so big that it had four doors in all the four directions.  It had three doors even till 1990. In 1990 a portion (belonging to us) was sold so now it has only one door left now. Both Shri Minni Lal and Shri Niranjan Lal were so successful lawyers that there are two Muhallaa on their names - Minni Ganj and Niranjan Puri.

Shri Niranjan Lal and His Family
Shri Niranjan Lal was younger and was married to my mother's cousin sister (her mother's sister's daughter) from Kaasganj. He was a Magistrate. he had a business of Arahar Daal (or Toor Daal) and made iron bars from scraps. They had four living children - two sons - Harishchandra Bansal and Rajendra Kumar Bansal; and two daughters - Shashi and Urmila (I do not know if any of his children died). They were in the order Harishchandra, Shashi, Rajendra Kumar and Urmila. Among them I do not know when Harishchandra and Shashi were married, but I attended the marriages of Urmila and Rajendra Kumar. Urmila was married to a Judge, who lived in Hisaar, in 1948, Panjaab and Rajendra Kumar was married in a family of Barreilly.

Harishchandra was married to Satyavatee's (Shri Minni Lal's wife) brother's daughter Saroj. Saroj had three sisters (Malati, Prabhat and Vinod) and two brothers (Naresh and Popo - I don't know his real name, I know only his pet name). Thus Satyavati was Saroj's real Buaa. As in our families is a custom to touch the feet of elderly women in in-law's house, I never saw Saroj Chaachee touching my grandmother Satyavati's feet and she always used to address her "Buaa", not "Jeejee" as all people in my family addressed her. Harishchandra and Saroj had four sons and one daughter. The eldest son's name was Vinay. Other children's names I do not know. One of their sons died - I don't know how, but he was sick for some time (don't know the disease).

Rajendra Kumar Bansal, Shri Niranjan Lal's younger son, was married to Pushpa and they had two children, one son Anupam Bansal and one girl Neenee (I think her real name was Kumud). When these children were still young, below 10 years of age, Shri Rajendra Bansal emigrated to Modi Nagar as an employee of Modi Industries. Anupam became a successful doctor and Neenee was married. After their family had settled in Modi Nagar we did  not have much contact with them. I met them once in February 1961, when I went to Meerut to study Sociology for two months. I did not meet their children as they were away - I don't remember why.

Shri Minni Lal and His Family
Shri Minni Lal was married to Satyavati from a family of Bulandshahar. We never heard of any other relative of Satyavati Devi. We know only that she had her Bhaabhee (widowed sister-in-law) and her six children - 2 sons (Naresh Kumar and Popo) and 4  daughters (Saroj - who was married to my Chaachaa Harish Chandra, the son of Shri Niranjan Lal, Malti, Prabhat and Vinod). I have never seen her going there except in three marriages (of Naresh, Malti and Prabhat) and may be a couple of times more. My mother and we also went to Bulandshahar in Naresh and Malti's marriages.

I was very young in Malti's marriage. I remember once I wanted to eat one Gulaab-jaamun, so my mother asked Saroj to give one Gulaab-jaamun to me. She was my Chaachee from my father's paternal side and Buaa from my father's maternal side. We used to call her Chaachee. So asked me to address her as Buaa then only she would give me Gulaab-jaamun. And I would not call her Buaa. Because I did not understand how could she be my Buaa when she was my Chaachee (at that age I understood this much that maternal and paternal relationship could not be mixed up. So I did not address her Buaa and she was also adamant that she would give me Gulaab-jaamun only when I will call her Buaa. Everybody was laughing there, I did not understand why they all were laughing, but I could not call her Buaa at any cost, later she had to give me the Gulaab-jaamun without calling her Buaa. After a long time I could understand this relationship.

Shri Minni Lal and Satyavatee had two children, one son Kailash Chandra Bansal (my father), and one daughter Santosh Rani. I do not know if any of their children died. He died very young, I do not know how. We had his very good photo in our hall situated on the first floor where Shri Kailash Chandra Bansal was doing his business. In that photo he was looking very young. Once when I was very young, may be 5-6 years old, I asked my mother, "Where is Baabaa's old age photo."  My mother told me that they had his that photo only. I asked her "Why not the old age photo?"My mother said - "Because he did not get old. He died young. Then how could we have his old age photo?"

Later I also discovered that it was not a photo, it was a portrait, a pencil sketch, drawn by some friend of Shri Minni Lal Jee. It was so beautifully drawn that it looked so lively. .He looked in that sketch so lively as if he would just speak smilingly.

Shri Kailash Chandra Bansal
My father Kailash Chandra did his BA (History) and then studied law - both from Aligarh Muslim University. He became a practicing lawyer but unfortunately he could not continue his practice for long and he started his own business of locks. Thus he was a lawyer by education and a businessman by profession. He had a small business of locks which is a very famous business of Aligarh. Aligarh is famous for its locks. Shri Kailash Chandra was married to Saraswati Devi from Bulandshahar. Kailash Chandra Bansal and Saraswati Devi Bansal had four daughters during their marital period - Asha (died at a very early age - before the age of 3 years and before I was born), Sushma (me), Madhur and Chitralekha (she died before she was 5 years old). My mother told me that they named their first daughter "Asha" (means hope) because she was born to them after several years of their marriage.

Santosh Rani and Her Family
Shri Kailash Chandra Bansal's only sister Santosh Rani was married to Shri Jagdish Sharan Agrawal, of a very very good family of Etawah. He was the son of Rai Bahadur Suraj Mal. His house was not a house, or Havelee, it was a palace in real sense. His palace had 52 courtyards in it. I do not know when it happened but when I first time went to her house, in 1956, several roads were passing through it, but it still was famous with the name of  "52 Chowk Kee Havelee". They had 9 living children in the order - Pushpa, Kusum, Suman, Abha (Rani), Rakesh (son), Dinesh (son), Mukul, Neelam and Lal Jee (I don't know his real name, perhaps his name was Mukesh or something). Their one son died, because I remember my mother went there for condolence. As Buaa Jee had 6 daughters, her three daughters were of fair complexion (Kusum, Abha and Neelam) and three daughters were of little bit darker (Pushpa, Suman and Mukul).

I don't know how much she studied, but I remember this much that I used her mathematics book of class 8th and historical atlas. Certainly she did not pass her High School.

I don't know how many brothers and sisters my Phoophaa Jee (Jagdish Sharan) had, but I know about his two siblings - one brother and one sister, both younger to Phoophaa Jee. Phoophaa Jee was the eldest. He had his step mother. Thus my Buaa had her step mother-in-law. When I first went there in 1956, it was the occasion of  my Buaa's 2nd child Kusum's marriage. My whole family, my parents and my younger sister Madhur, went there as it was the first marriage in their house. There was a lot of enthusiasm and happiness in both families - theirs and ours. Phoophaa Jee's mother (she was his step mother) asked me from my mother for her son. I was only 13 at that time. Whatever reason my mother gave to her, I do not know,. but she politely refused for this proposal.

Kusum's Marriage
I enjoyed that marriage very well. Her husband was my first Jeejaa Jee. He was from Moradabad and he did the brass pots business which is the specialty of Moradabad. In our culture three relationships are very jovial and odd -
Jeejaa-Saalee - boy's relationship with his wife's younger sister
Devar-Bhaabhee - boy's relationship with his elder brother's wife, and
Nandoee-Salahaj - boy's relationship with his wife's younger brother's wife

Since we were all younger to Kusum Jeejee, we all had the opportunity to cut jokes on her husband. In marriage ceremonies, there is a ceremony in which the bride's younger brothers and sisters ask the groom to sing a song, or tell a joke or something. So we were asking our Jeejaa Jee to sing a song, and as usual he was repeating that he did not know singing. We were also after him that sing at least one song, or four lines etc etc. After some persuasion he sang the two lines of this Rafi's song which was very popular at that time - "Tujhe kyaa sunaaoon mein dilrubaa tere saamane meraa haal hai.  ....  meree zindagee kaa savaal hai". What a song in reply?

Our Jeejaa Jee was very handsome. He had one brother and one sister, both younger. Both were very beautiful and attractive. I kept looking at them whenever they came to attend the marriage ceremonies at our place. Later they had one son Chunmun and one daughter (I don't know the daughter's name). Jeejaa Jee died of Heart attack.

Pushpa's Marriage
Although Pushpa Jeejee was elder to Kusum Jeejee, but she was married 2 years later than Kusum Jeejee. She was married in 1958. When she was married, she was above 29 years of age. We used to hear that Phoophaa Jee was trying to marry her since the age of 14 years. In those days boys did not want a darker girl, she used spectacles also and they did not want the girls with spectacles also. That is why she was rejected at many places. She did Master in Hindi Literature. She was very good in Raamaayan. Once Phoophaa Jee was telling us that Pushpa Jeejee stood first in a competition of Raamaayan. She was very young at that time.

After she got her Master in Hindi Literature, she worked in All India Radio in "Bahanon kaa Program". She often appeared in that program and we always found a chance to hear her. I considered this a very high thing in our community, but in her family everybody was opposing her for this work, as girls were not supposed to do job. Education was all right for them, but job? No, No. I myself was so fascinated with that, that I used to dream that one day I will also be heard on radio. There was a Maamaa (mother's brother) of Phoophaa Jee, Shrimannarayan, who was something big in government (Minister or something) at that time, he arranged this for her saying that "till she is not married, let her work here". She worked there for a couple of years.

How she got married is an interesting story. her husband's name was Rikhab Das Jain and he was from Meerut. By profession he was a photographer and ran a shop of photographic materials. Talks were going on with Rikhab Das' family about this proposal and Phoophaa Jee was to go to their house to talk to them. He went there and fixed the relation and came back and gave this news to us too. We all were very happy with this relation - at last she was getting married. Phoophaa Jee told us that story, "Rikhab Das' mother had a dream the previous night that somebody said to her that whosoever would come to her house tomorrow with the proposal for Rikhab, you must accept it." As they were also worried about their son's marriage, as our Phoophaa Jee reached there, they accepted the proposal without asking anything. First Phoophaa Jee was shocked at this that his daughter was getting married so easily but later on hearing the story from his mother he got relieved. And they got married. Jeejaa Jee (Rikhab Das) was MA in Economics and PhD in Economics. He did this on some topic of films so he had lots of photographs of film stars. Once, after my marriage, when our camp was in Meerut, we both went to his house. Pushpa Jeejee was not there at that time. He showed us several albums of film stars' photos which were taken during his research period.

Later, as we heard, Jeejee got him a job in Radio (AIIR) with her influence and they stayed in Delhi for some time and then in Lucknow. We heard that they had one son and he came to America, settled down here.

Suman's Marriage
Although Suman Jeejee was elder to me, but her marriage took place in the same year in which I was married, but after my marriage. We were married for a few days only, so it was a different kind of fun for me. I was not much interested in Jeejee's marriage but to enhance our own relationship.

Abha, Rakesh, Dinesh, Mukul, Neelam, Lal Jee
They all got married and settled in their lives as the time went by. Abha Jeejee was married in a family from Kanakhal. Once we went there to see her but she was not ther so we came back. Rakesh was also got married and got a teaching job in some Degree College in Etawah. Later he moved to Allahabad in the same job. Dinesh also got married. He was married in our paternal family who lived adjacent to Shri Niranjan Lal's Kothee at Delhi Gate. I know only one man in that family, Shri Chiranji Lal. He used to come to our house sometimes. He was elder to my father that is why we used to address him as Taaoo Jee. She was the daughter of that family.

When we visited Buaa Jee in 1981 (that was the last I saw Buaa's family), Dinesh was living separately from his parents and Buaa Jee told us that they got separated soon after the marriage. Mukul had got married, had a daughter, but left her in-law's house and was living with Buaa Jee. Neelam was quite grown-up but was not yet married. Mukul told me that she often engaged herself in Poojaa etc. Lal Jee was also married and got settled in Modi Nagar. This was Buaa Jee's family in 1981.

Later I heard that Neelam died with stomachache within a short time. She complained about the stomachache. They called the doctor and after a while she died. Nothing could be known about the reason of her death.

Continued on Next Page.... Sushma Gupta : Early Days


  1. Dear Sushmajee:

    I was looking for information on Dr Rikhab Das Jain, who wrote a famous book on Hindi films in 1960 and found your blog!

    Let me introduce myself. I am from Panjab, have a PhD in Physics, retired, and crazy about Hindi films. I now live in San Diego, California.

    It was fascinating to read about your family's early history. I held my breath until I came to Dr Jain and his marriage to Pushpajee, your buaajee's daughter. Stuff of romance novels!

    Dr Jain's PhD thesis is on the subject "The Economic Aspects of the Film Industry in India". To my knowledge this is the second PhD thesis ever on Hindi films, the first one being by Mrs. Panna Shah published in 1950. I got it from a library and made a photocopy. I will be happy to send you a copy.

    I have a great favor to ask of you. I think this was a great thesis and deserves to be better known. I am thinking of editing it and reprinting it for the new generation. But I need permission to do so from Dr Jain's heirs. So please let me know the contact information, address, phone number etc. of the appropriate person.

    Also I have collected lots of material on Hindi films, songs, films, books, magazines etc. specially from the early days to1960. If you ever need any song, movie etc., please ask. I plan to write lots of books on Hindi films. I have already published one called "Edwina an Unsung Bollywood Dancer of the Golden Era". She used to be a background dancer who danced and acted in about 100 films and now 75 years old living in the UK. I would like to post you a copy. Please let me know your postal address.

    Hoping to hear from you soon. Thanks.