The Longing

I yearned for a break in my hectic daily schedule.So i awaited the Dussehra holidays with much anticipation, I was going home, as in mom’s home. Funny, it is still where i feel most at peace and a strong sense of belonging. The flurry of shopping, packing followed by journeying over we arrived at Kolkata. Yes! The city of Durga Puja, chinese food, rolls and mishti (sweetmeats).

One stride out of the airport gates and there was a vibrancy in the air as the whole city was gearing up for the five day long festivities. Never mind the slight humidity in the air, loud noises, traffic snarls. My joy knew no bounds for me it meant lots of rest, chatting sessions, food and fun.It is important to add i do have kids and well they are just three, but it felt great just the same.

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There were still a few days left for Durga Pujas to begin and so what followed was a mad shopping spree by moi. Its not that i buy only this time of the year and well i had promised myself that i wouldn’t join in this crazy ritual this year, my kids already had enough clothes. But hey! what the heck! Kolkata worked its magic on me and there i was on the streets of Gariahat, haggling, pushing, jostling but hugely enjoying myself as i hopped from one shop to the other looking for clothes, jewellery and the works. This i believe is the only time when my mind and heart truly and completely belongs here, i would rather be nowhere else!

Shopping over, the festivities begin. Each day of the puja means a new set of clothes, eating out profusely and well the clock is relegated to the back of the house. As days merge into nights, it feels like a 24 by 7 celebration time.

First on the list is meeting with old friends, and well it always feel like back to school and like time has stopped. We pick up instantly from where we have left, the coffee shop guy is totally exasperated as we keep asking for new things since our adda(chat session) seems no sign of abating.

Then is meeting with family, my very old grandmother. Seeing her so frail brings back strong memories of my childhood when she would lovingly pamper me and provide a space for do-as-you-like. Time stood still for a second, but when i glance back i see another era coming to an end and along with it another chapter from my childhood.As i take my leave she waves silently from the balcony. Will i see her in my next visit? Will my childhood be safely preserved for some more time?

Then comes the cultural performances. During the durga puja as every nook and cranny celebrates the arrival of the Goddess, they also do that in style with lots of song and dance thrown. So we have small podiums set up as the local talents come up and well it is a feast anyways. Little ones to adults, perform to traditional, modern as well as hindi songs and then their is vocal music of course. Hence what follows are nights of pure unadulterated joy, lots of music, dance and street food of course!

So there the last day has arrived, its Vijaya Dashami and as the goddess takes her leave i cannot help feel sad! Ma, will i be able to see you next year ? Ma, will my family and friends be fine for the next year? These questions assail me. Age i believe has its effects and mine is losing my loved ones. As we married women prepare to bid adieu, the boron, my eyes water and my heart feels heavy. As a child i remember i used to feel sad as it meant the end of holidays and we have to get back to our studies. As an adult i harbour fear, fear of loss, fear of separation, fear of tragedy.

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The departure of the goddess implied its time to pack my bags as well and head back to my karmbhoomi. My parents our sad , the whole city becomes glum. I guess its the reflection of my mood. Life goes back to normal, with new clothes in my suitcase, sweets for my friends and a bunch of love, memories and photographs we catch the flight back home.

As the plane soars above i catch one last glimpse of the city. Longing to get back again, longing for the next Durga Puja, longing and longing more. My child starts crying as she misses her grandparents too, reality check, my job begins, the vacations are over.

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5 thoughts on “The Longing

  1. I enjoyed your detailed description of the Durga puja. I too miss Calcutta, though I am from Madras. I did my college there in the 70s, and going around Garihahat was our favorite pass time. And I used to live in Keyotala which is very close to this lovely market.

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