DHAKAIYYA HUMOUR by Syed Maqsud Jamil

February 22, 2013

The daily Star- Nov 16 2012

……Dhakaiyya humour is all about the life of the Dhakaiyyas, their culture, how they interact and their attitude towards life. They are an unassuming people with no veneer of contrived social credo. Neither are they brash. Their directness can catch people off guard; there are no pretensions. The most disarming thing about it is that the directness comes with a sweet sauce, humour that will not rile the receiver. The humour extends beyond the coachman and his horse and the chicken and the overnight qawwali session……

Dhakaiyya humour also has another element of characterising people by their physical features or oddities, intemperate habits and even by their trades. A dark-skinned person is called Kala Jabun or black berry, a tall man with stooping gait was a Ged or a vulture, a raucous man was a Dhar Kauwaor (a craven) a skinny opium addict was Suka Lerior (dried feces), a querulous woman or a girl was Kauwa Thutithe (one with a crow’s tongue), a woman matchmaker was Futkior (sparrow) and so on.

….The story should move on to the 22 Sardars (Chieftains) of Dacca once appointed by the Nawab of Dhaka. The Sardars continued in their eminence although the Nawab declined in authority. As the story goes, Ayub Khan, during his visit to Dacca, called a meeting of the influential. The Sardars were naturally invited. There was one Sardar who considered himself mighty and had a huge ego. Ayub Khan was speaking in English and the Sardar could not speak a word of it. Some of the participants were venturing into broken English, but the accompanying followers of the Sardar found to their discomfiture that their Lord was losing his eminence by his silence. So they pleaded with the Sardar ‘Sardar Saab sab koi English qairaha ap bhi kuch boliye (everybody is speaking in English, you should say something). When Ayub Khan was making an important point, our Sardar got up and uttered ‘OK’. A month later a letter arrived from the ministry that the President was inviting a participation of the certain sum the sardar had agreed to give. Kindly come forward with your committed amount of Rs.20,000.00. The Sardar was knocked over and he observed, ‘Zindagi mei ektho English kaha uska dam bis hazar, is liye hum English bolte kam’ (In my life I have uttered a single English word and its price is Rs.20,000/-, that is why I rarely speak in English)……

Another Sardar was invited to the final of a table tennis tournament and to give away the prizes. After the final was over the Sardar gave away the prizes. He was then invited to deliver his chief guest’s speech. He spoke thus, “je jitche uibee bhalokhelche, je harche uibee bhalo khelche, jaraa mare dawat diyaanche nami bohut khushihoichi, jara sabbasi dichen tarao bhalo kajkorchen. Kintuk dhonnobad dite hoile ami oimurg iredhonnoba ddimu je murgi aiandata parche etopitaiche magar fatchena.” (The one who has won he has played well, the one who has lost he has also played well, those who invited me I am very happy with them, those who cheered they have also done well. But if I am to express thanks I should thank the chicken that laid the egg, it has been battered so badly, but it has not cracked apart.)

Dhakaiyya humour is profoundly natural. It is not a contrived skit. It is the kind of humour that added to the joy of the time we lived. 

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