LA BELLE DAME SANS MERCI SAID THE POET JOHN KEATS
THE MEN-KILLER BINDI GHAR GIRLS OF MOCHI DARWAZA
Legends abound of their extra-ordinary control over men
In a small area inside Mochi Gate, there in Gujjar Gali, are the houses of a Chaghatai family of Kabul. Their traditional occupation was that of PAINTING and they were artists over generations. But they were known as BINDI GHARS, that is that they were reputed for making the small jewelry which is hung over the ears of the women. Their women were of exceptional beauty, famous for their dazzling eyes, which could captivate passing men with one glance. No one could resist them.
The legend of Medusa from the Greek mythology comes to mind. For it is said:
Medusa was a beautiful and charming woman and many men were longing for her. Nevertheless, she was a priestess in the temple of Athena and like all priestesses so she was bound by an eternal oath of chastity. According to a Greek myth, the god Poseidon was captivated by her beauty and wanted to mate with her. He was transformed into a horse and joined with her into the sanctuary of Athena, an act of sacrilege, an abhorrent practice throughout the ancient world.
The goddess enraged by the fact, could not harm Poseidon and so she unleashed her rage on Medusa. Athena transformed her into a hateful monster, which had snakes instead of hair. The ugliness was such that anyone looking at her face immediately turned to stone. In this myth, Medusa was transformed into a kind of monster called Gorgon, a horrible monster. Gorgon was symbolizing the physical embodiment of death. Since then, Medusa is the Gorgon, the mythical figure of death.
If we compare our Mochi Daraza girls with Medusa, we would not be wrong, for not only did they could convert men into metaphorical stones, they also killed men.They had hold over men as nobody else could even imagine. They could make men feel like Kings or Slaves in a single stroke of womanly charm. A young man across their houses was in love with one of the girls, we call her here as just MISS M. She used to come to the roof of her house and he used to come to the roof of his house, and their glances were like magic. Miss M used to rush to her roof when the boy MR M.S, used to come back from college. The signal was a whistle they blew at each other. On her wedding day, MR M.S did whistle and she came to the roof in her bridal suit to wave at him. He still nurtures love for her after her marriage and migration to England from a long time.
But here we are not talking of small talk. We are talking of a Bindi Ghar woman, who got married at least three or four times, and the result was same. She chose men of distinction with a rich family background, and then after some time, she would slowly poison her husband to death. It could have been taken as a chance, but it is suspect when it does happen again and again, as the rich widow, accumulated houses and wealth on her own. I know details of her first marriage well. She got married to my own uncle Muhammd Hussain Chughtai.
I do not know how it all began, and yet I know that my uncle Muhammed Hussain (the eldest son of Mian Kareem Baksh from his first wife. The second wife Chiragh Bibi bore the three sons, Abdur Rahman, Abdullah and Abdur Raheem) was enamoured with the idea of this Bindi Ghar girl. My grandfather took the marriage procession to that house and was rebuked by the father of MISS S. Simple reason that the procession had not come with a musical band. My grandfather went back and brought the band to satisfy that family.Obviously as my grandfather was dead by 1913, this must have happened a few years before that. My uncle was obsessed with her and she made it a habit of picking up a fight and heading for home all the time. The poor uncle of mine was really nuts for her, in times, when men could dominate women easily. He would stalk her wearing a burqa, and the people of Lahore, remembered the dreadful and embarrassing scene on the stairs of the Badshahi mosque Lahore, when she tore his burqa away. My uncle thought of ways of winning her back. She planned his death.
MISS S now Mrs Muhammed Hussain came back home after being cajoled by my uncle. He did not know what he was heading towards in his own house. She slowly started feeding him poison and he became bed ridden and was unable to speak at all. When visited by my father, he looked helplessly at him, not being able to say anything at all. He died a few days later, without any children. As the Chabuk Sawaran house was divided into two portions for living; one for Muhammed Hussain, the other portion for the other family (mother and three sons) , she got hold of that whole house, family library of books and manuscripts, as well as the gold coins in the house. She sold the house in a hurry and left a legacy of the Bindi Ghar girls to be remembered for all times.
Enamoured by her success, she repeated this poison thing again and again, and she completely got away with it. John Keats wrote: La Belle dame sans Merci, has thee in thrall. Certainly MISS S had my uncle in thrall as well as others. Such chapters of history of Lahore never recorded by anyone. We do that now!