Veena Shringi, hailing from Sindh and settled in Delhi, India, is a multi-faceted personality – a poetess, writer, broadcaster, and social worker. She is author of 31 books. Her first book was ‘Kian Visariyan Verheechan’ (Can’t Forget My Loved Ones), the memoirs of her life from childhood to the time she migrated to India, published in Sindhi language in 1984. Now the English version of the same book is under publication. Sindh Courier is publishing a few chapters of book with consent of the author.
My grandfather had the gift of curing people of their ailments. People from nearby villages used to visit him to seek his advice. Hindus used to respect him as a Brahman and Muslims respected him as a pious person. Muslims would say “A pinch of dust from his home is enough to cure a person”. There used to be a queue of bullock carts since dawn. My grandfather used to seek assistance from my mother while dispensing. After he crossed seventy years of age, his eyesight started failing. However, otherwise, his health was good. He was six feet tall, with blue eyes and pink cheeks. He always wore a silk Patka (Turban), which would enhance his personality. He was fond of wearing good clothes. As his daughters in law were educated in English, he also started studying English. He started reading headlines of daily newspaper Dawn, which was published from Karachi. Thus, he kept himself abreast with the happenings in the country. He was quick-witted and used to cut jokes. While telling a joke he never laughed, because the joke used to be witty and at times a satire. The listeners would have a hearty laugh. Sometimes when I tell a joke, my mother laughs and says “She has genes of her grandfather.” When I started a program on All India Radio external services consisting of music and jokes, I remembered my mother and grandfather a lot. Sometimes my mother says “Why do you laugh while telling a joke? Joke loses its charm.” But it is my weak point. Once I start laughing, it becomes impossible to stop. Hence I have developed a habit of laughing while greeting a person. My mother ticks me off and says “Change your habits. It is not proper for a daughter to laugh so much in front of strangers. This may cause misunderstandings.”
As a radio artist, I have developed a professional approach. I don’t feel afraid of talking to anyone. Neither I hesitate while talking nor do I show attitude. I am straight in talking and say what comes to my mind. I had this habit since childhood. Due to this my grandfather used to get angry, and tell my mother “Your daughter talks and laughs openly with neighborhood boys; it is not proper.” My mother used to reply “She is your granddaughter too; why don’t you make her understand this?” Sometimes my grandfather used to scold me severely due to this habit of mine. At the same time, he loved me a lot. He desired that I should be a doctor. He had a sort of hatred for dance and music. If he saw someone dancing he would say “Why they are jumping around like clowns?”
In our neighborhood, there used to be a Hindu girl. She was not that good looking, but she used to show a lot of attitudes. My grandfather detested her behavior. A person called Vaso used to visit my grandfather. At times he used to give massage to my grandfather. Vaso used to tell us stories of fairies and demons. When a bad spirit licks one’s knees, the person can’t walk. When a demon blows breath in eyes one gets blind. With things like this sometimes grandfather used to get angry with Vaso. “You are talking too much like a gramophone.” Thus, we used to listen to our grandfather with attention. But, we were more interested in getting money from him to eat ice candies in the evening. We used to assist our grandfather in dispensing medicines and potions. Thus we also acquired some knowledge about the sickness and its cure and many more
People from all the walks of life used to visit to seek cure for their illness. They were Chandia, Baloch, Masgi, Brohi Jarawar, Ghaloo, Laghari, Khuhro and many more. All these are surnames of various Muslim tribes. When they came, they used to bring pots of buttermilk with a big lump of butter floating in there. We enjoyed eating the butter with the bread. Once, a Baloch woman came for medicine. She brought a bottle for the medicine. When we poured medicine in the bottle, lot many tiny scorpions crept out of it. We all started shouting. Grandfather started abusing the Baloch woman. My grandfather used to get wild very often with his patients. If someone had a problem of heat and said that he has eaten a chicken, this used to invite a barrage of abuses. If someone asked, about the diet and referred to eating beef; he would tell them “Go and arrange for the shroud.” Despite rough behavior, there used to be a lot of people. It was said that Maharaj Ramchander is an expert healer. At the same time, people used to fear him. Robbers, criminals and bodybuilders used to come to our Otaak to pay respects to my grandfather. Grandfather was fond of watching wrestling. On his demise, many notable persons and other people came for condolence. Several people brought Pakhars for the dead body as a mark of respect. They also brought a lot many offerings as a mark of respect, which we declined to accept. We distributed packets of Laddu and food in hundreds of homes. This is our custom to distribute food when an elderly person departs for heavenly abode.
After a few days of the death of my grandfather, some people brought a sick man in a bullock cart. They said we want Maharaj Ramchander to treat him. We told them that he is no more. On hearing this they started crying. They were explained that due to the death of grandfather it is not possible to give any medicines and since the patient is in a critical state, he may be taken to the big hospital in Larkana, the district place. The relatives of the patient said that they will not leave this place until they get the medicine. Hearing this, my mother came out. They all fell upon her feet and requested her to give the medicines. They finally declared that they will not go to any other doctor. Mother, at last, decided to help them out. She looked into the book of medicines of my grandfather. She got hold of some medicines lying at home. She prayed with the name of the grandfather and gave medicines to the patient. She told them to go back to their village and continue with the medicines. After a few days, those people returned with the patient who was hale and hearty. They brought sugar and butter as a gift. My mother was surprised. With this incidence my mother became famous. They started saying that daughter in law of Maharaj Ramchander is an expert healer.
After this incidence, lot many sick people started coming to mother. She cured many people. Amongst those got cured, there were thieves, robbers and murderers. Mother, while feeling their pulse used to hesitate in touching the unknown people. But all the people respected her like their sister and mother. With the permission of my father, mother started dispensing medicines to the sick. She used to charge only the actual expenses; never for a profit. Once, grandson of Jumma Khan Shaikk’s son became very sick. Jumma Khan was a wealthy and influential person. He was politically an opponent of my grandfather. Despite this, they had good relations with each other. The boy was on the last leg. Everybodyin the family was worried. Several doctors were consulted. Alms were given in charity. They made offerings at several Dargahs (Shrines). There was no improvement. Someone advised them to get a talisman from the house of Maharaj Gopi Krishan’s home. Gopi Krishan was the name of my father. It will cure the child. Ladies from the Shaikh family came crying to my mother. They requested my mother to help them by consulting the almanac. My mother refused saying “I don’t know how I can help you?” Ultimately she relented and asked them “What are you doing at the moment?”. They replied as per the advice of someone goats are being offered as a sacrifice. Mother immediately instructed them to stop killing the goats. She told them that this sort of sacrifice is not compatible with the talisman which is being given. Mother wrote a Shloka on a piece of paper, sanctified it with water and made a talisman to be tied to the neck of the sick boy. She gave a few medicines too. With the grace of God, the boy survived and became hale and hearty. After that day, there used to a rush of Muslim women from the Shaikh family at our home. Some had family problems, some were unhappy with their in-laws and some wanted to know an auspicious time to start the business. Sons of some had gone to Arabia. They wanted a talisman to get their sons back. They all wanted a solution to their problems. They used to barge in at all odd hours. My father would get annoyed due to unwanted traffic of Muslim women in our home.
One ascetic lady in Shahdadkot called Mai Lachhi fell sick. She was a well-respected lady. She had Guru Granth Saheb in her house. Every day she used to hold a discourse which was attended by thirty or forty women. She sent her disciple – a blind lady Mai Gyani to my mother with a question “Ask Adi Sati, how long will I live?” My mother consulted her almanac and told her a particular date. She said, “If you survive after this date, it will be your new birth.” When Mai Lacchi heard this message, she stopped taking all the medicines. My mother got worried. She went to Mai Lachhi and tried to explain to her not to give up medicines. But Mai Lachhi was adamant. Mai Lachhi breathed her last, on the day, which my mother had predicted. After that incidence, all the people of Shahdadkot, including rich and poor, politicians and hardline Muslims started believing in whatever my mother said. My mother got alarmed. She said, “Now onwards I will not interfere in the mysteries of God.” Just to break the habit of people coming to her so often, she decided to leave the town for some time. She went away to her parents in India.
One day, after the mother had left for India, a woman came to me. She said, “You are the daughter of Maharaj, please consult the almanac and tell me when my son will come back from India.” Her son had gone to India where he lost his passport. Due to this, he couldn’t travel back. His family was disturbed and the business was also ruined. I told her that I don’t know how to read the almanac. She insisted that somehow I must tell her as I was a daughter of a renowned Brahmin. She suggested I may use the Nasika method to predict. I had heard about it from my father and grandfather. I also applied the Nasika method and I told her that her son will come back soon. After a few days, that woman came running to me. Her son had returned from India, as predicted by me. She presented a silk dress to me. This news got spread in the town. Thus, lot many other women started coming to me with all sort of odd requests.
My mother returned from India. When she came to know about women coming to me, she got alarmed. She said, “I got relief, but my daughter got trapped in it.” My father and mother became adamant. They were pushing the women out. They told women “You are welcome, but please do not come for talismans and charms.” With great difficulty, we got relief from the mad rush. The whole family with father mother and children came to India for a few months. Thus, the nuisance was over. Still, some women come to my mother to seek her advice.
(Translated from Sindhi language by Ram Daryani)
Click here to read Foreword of the book
Click here to read First Chapter
Click here to read Second Chapter