Bolo Durga Mai ki……. JOY

“Sing like no one is listening, dance like no one is watching, and love like you’ve never been hurt.”

That is what my facebook fortune cookie said today morning. Amazing start to the day.

Back from my trip to Kolkata, I had precisely two hours to SETTLE and immediately had to get on with the backlog of work that had accumulated since my holiday and since there has been no stop…… But I am glad I had the opportunity to pause for a few days before resuming

The highlights have been my detoxification from internet…….. which was looooong overdue and I am glad to say that I am finally successful. I am no longer obsessed with the net and have other things in life besides virtual friends…. like real people for a change. I finally made real friends and am catching up with lots of others over cups of tea and coffee. Personal interaction is making me happy……. the pain also seems very less…….. guess I finally found a way to cope with the arthritis. It does come back, but I think acceptance relieves the pressure and after one full year I feel as though I am finally back for good……. Hubby thinks I have my eyes back which should be something because Ma commented that they are cloudy all the time these days.

My Degree college students are good….. really good and it is intellectually stimulating to think beyond the box and do things…….. boring things in a new way….. that makes it challenging. My Diploma class is lacking and I am having to go to the basics. Considering that I don’t have much time with them and they the fact that are expecting miracles, I am not so sure about achieving this. I am putting in my best and keeping my fingers crossed for the rest.

The rest is just ordinary and…… THE USUAL.

I met my previous batch and it was so good to see them again….. MY KIDS!!!

Today in the degree college I lost my temper. I don’t like losing my temper. It takes out any kind of energy that I possess and in the end I am totally drained out and tired. It so happened that the degree college class has 50 students and 99% of them are Malayalees. These women are constantly chattering and when it is in Malayalam……. it is like somebody is doing a remake of BREATHLESS….. no full stop, no comma. It is like sparrows lots and lots of them chattering into your ear non-stop. I can almost feel the sound of it vibrating inside my ears and my brain….. going from the cerebrum to the cerebellum to the medulla oblongata…… to the auditory area then coming back to the temporal lobe and then back again. I could feel every single piece of my brain. Then I lost it and threw the chalk in hand on one girl…… no damage…… SHE SMILES and puts out her tongue but the others continue!!! (secret: nobody noticed but after that I reached for the duster…… now that would have been something…… you would have all seen me in the newspapers and the news channels).

Nobody listened and I was back to square one. I soon realised that it was a question of Patience and that I should be more tolerant so I instead I decided to do something constructive.…... one word…… one single word….. it got me total silence…. EXTEMPORE!!!! hehehehehehehe

As they say “Don’t get mad……. GET EVEN

Tomorrow is the first day of Durga Puja. It is that time of the year when we await the coming of Durga Ma and everybody seems to be preparing for it. Because of Dida’s demise we wont be celebrating the festival this year. But I am really hoping to be able to go home even if only for a weekend.

When I was young, when Puja was just round the corner, we would suddenly have a lot of bengali songs being played at home and Ma humming to popular bengali numbers….. I guess she was homesick and remembered her days of Puja back in Kolkata with her family. Everybody tells me that they miss the Puja back at Kolkata and that it is very beautiful etc etc….. and usually they all end up getting nostalgic and reminiscing the sounds of Dhak and chanting of the Chandi. I have never been there or seen that so must be good!!!

Though I am not officially celebrating the festival, Ma and sisters have already bought me clothes……. so I have three new dresses for puja plus the ones I have bought for myself. I hope I am able to wear them for Puja. I havent been to Ma’s in months!!! Puja without Ma and Pa and sisters and their family is like totally SAD!!! Leaving you with the sounds of Dhak  and dhunuchi dance from youtube.

Happy Durga Puja and Navratri to all of you and your families!!!
May Ma Durga bring joy and happiness to one and all!!!

Ohhhhh Kolkata

Truly and officially Kolkata is just not my city…….. Honestly I went there with an open mind…….. totally OPEN as OPEN as I could get but NAH, the way things work there is truly irrational and beyond the realms of my pea-sized brain!!!

The hospital is a place of worship where doctors are put on pedestal (like tons and tons of swamijis) and once they are found not so up to the mark they are whipped of their god like stature and brought down to the stature of dogs. I think I like it here where doctors rather be questioned and thought of like humans beings who could falter and thought of as people with a different line of education who have the capability to heal people of their sickness and in the process of treatment they explain to mere suffering mortals the reason for their ailment and the subsequent treatment.

I met the sweet tongued sari clad ladies who had soooo sweetly abused me on phone and guess what they didn’t actually look soooooo good to me rather they lived up to their sneaking selves of being unscrupulous thereby pacifying me that my judgment of them was not so wrong also they put me off my guilt trip. What works in the passionate city of Kolkata is sob stories…….. yeah that sells like hot cakes especially if you have somebody sick, somebody cheated you, denied of inheritance or just plain you being sick…….. so much for me putting up my brave facade of being totally well and sneaking pain killers down my throat and hiding my swollen legs.

My pa-in-law is well. Hospital’s patient care was good but can’t say the same of their information section or their billing section. It sucked!!!! They have employed a bunch of female nincompoops totally wet behind their ears…….. fresh out of college, totally unprofessional, who were getting slapped right left and center by one and all and took it all well without complaining…….. to repeat the same mistakes again and again.

Screaming at those people was just so normal that it did not even raise my bp this time……. everyone was screaming at them. It took us five hours to get our patient admitted in spite of making pre-arrangements and the hospital calling us in the morning to confirm every detail. Waiting five hours meant waiting/standing for five hours in the OPD as they did not have a separate waiting area and since OPD was in full force there was no place to wait……. emergency patients also were made to wait. Similarly clearing bill and getting together and clearing up took a long time……. because they had obviously wrongly billed us and after a session of table banging (by hubby) everything worked smoothly and the bill was reduced.

What was very alarming was the rate of bypass surgeries and angioplasties done in a day at the hospital. It seemed like an epidemic of heart diseases there. Very scary!!!

Another thing that I was exposed to this time was the disparities in the city………. the disparities between the haves and the have-nots……. the elite and the not so elite. My side of the family in Kolkata comes from the northern side…… the displaced partition stricken people whereas hubby’s family is the British Raj worshiping elite of Bengal. The difference is so striking that I was actually shaken.

Just 30 km apart from each other but the difference hits you like a punch to your stomach. On one hand you have a whole family living in a 12 by 12 room and on the other hand you have a family of 4 saying that 3000 sq worth of carpet area is not enough…… that is the part of Kolkata that totally still lives in the era of British Raj and the glories then even though the current generation has not seen anything of it…… they live on memories and on imagination of the utopian world fed to them by their parents and grandparents.

Memories of hoodless convertibles, of waltz dancing in the balls given by Horton Sahib, innumerable servants, going on drives whereas the other side talks of the crossover, of poverty, of going without food wearing the same clothes till they were tattered and moving from house to house in search of shelter. Where on one side the elite discussed how Rabindranath was the epitome of all Vedas and Upanishads put together and bramho versus Hindu religion and sociological developments across the coffee table, the other side family is discussing the factory’s closure with the wife who patiently cooks fish on the earthen stove for her family.

I experienced all this in a span of hours…… all in the same day. So much disparity!!!! Also another factor that everybody talks about is inheritance…… The son of Bengal survives on the inheritance left by his father or grandfather. Most discussions usually revolve around who got what and how much…….. kind of disgusting to self made people like me.

With this scenario in mind I am not surprised why the Communists have ruled the state for decades. I always wondered why and how the CPM came to power year after year……. the mystery is finally solved.  The truth is finally evident to me.

On the lighter side whenever I wanted to go from one side to the other I used to get a lot of advice take a rickshaw (hand pulled ones) then take a metro then take 52 no bus, then an auto (auto rickshaw or cycle one)etc etc….. It used to really scare me to even me imagine me on all these modes of transport with my broken leg and my rheumatic arms and legs!!! as scary as JAWS!!! I used to have my eyes like golf balls and my mouth hanging open just thinking of doing all that they had suggested.

They really have a lot of modes of transport. When I was young I used to be totally terrified of the tin buses with wooden floors which moved on the roads and looked slanting to me…… I always thought that it would turn turtle but it never did. All you have to do to stop a bus is to raise your hand……… unlike us who run like the devil is after them to the bus stop to take a bus. The trams were another experience I could easily walk faster than the tram I wonder why people bother sitting in them. I remember not so long ago, dad had told me how the whole city had gone on a strike because the fare had risen by 25 ps. (talking of paises, we had a real tiff with a guy and lot of screaming because we did not have 25 ps change…… it still works there……. I haven’t seen one in a long time.) There is the popular cycle rickshaws and the hand pulled rickshaws. You wont believe it but really fat women even fatter than me…… two of them…… sit on one, which is pulled by a really scrawny thin guy. There is also the jetty, the popular metro and the of course Mamta Banerjee’s Indian Railway. This is one city where the Ambassador totally extinct elsewhere still rules the road and it is amazing to find how good it still is.

Another striking similarity both sides is that they have huge large windows and at least two doors in the bathrooms and since Kolkata is a congested area there is always somebody else’s window on the other side. I don’t understand why anybody would install huge windows and so many doors in the bathroom. For a maniac like me with bathroom phobia this is a total nightmare.

I did visit Dakshineshwar and Ma Kali…….. my second mother!!! It was so peaceful there. It kind of sucks in everything from inside you and keeps you just peaceful inside….. total silence!!! I have no idea but the inner sanctum of the temple is really beautiful and the Ganga flowing by is so beautiful. It always takes away everything that you have inside you to put in just peace in there. That is the only place in Kolkata that feels like Home!!!!

Apart from all that I did have a lot of sweets and bori and saw the city totally buzz with activity for the upcoming Puja. Shopping everywhere……… sadly in my case I did not have the time. Also owing to my grand mother-in-law’s death this year we will not be celebrating the festival.

I came back with a different point of view and appreciated my city my home and my family a lot more.

Listen to your wife

Life’s been a bit Topsy-turvy lately……. I know nothing new!!!! As I have mentioned earlier this is just not my year!!! Well pa-in-law has been hospitalized in midst of Aila creating havoc in the state of West Bengal. First it was the CPM being ousted and now the Aila. Did you know that Aila is actually a bad word in Marathi. I was actually quite stunned that the cyclone was called Aila.

Coming back to Pa-in-law, he was diagnosed with multiple complications so he was rushed to hospital in an emergency. On the other front dad and ma continue with their ups and downs on health front. Too much of tension!!! I just don’t like this year. I will be just glad when it is over and all is calm and quiet. I am fed of living on the edge. So much that I have again started dreaming of people dying…… result is insomnia. My insecurities are again surfacing to the point that yesterday I told hubs that I need a vacation all by myself……. alone!!!! I do sound selfish but man I do need a break and especially one where there won’t be phones or people and I don’t have to talk…….. solitude!!! Guess that is just a pleasant and unachievable dream……. far far far from reality!!!

On home front my well earned and deserved holiday seems to be coming to an end. The highlights of it being that I was successfully able to stay away from the computer and television for days at a stretch and I actually got back to reading frivolous stuff after a very long time. By frivolous stuff I obviously mean MB’s. They are so relaxing specially amidst the whole lot of commotion in my life.

I remember when I had sat in front of the ICU for days and nights at a stretch waiting for some answer to the problem, I used to see hordes of people probably with a similar predicament as mine, reading religious books and praying. I was too fraught to even consider doing any kind of reading or for that matter do anything. I left the hospital only once a day to go home for a bath too scared to leave. The rest of the day I just sat and waited and did my accounts of how to get money and from where. I wish they would keep some copies of these nonsensical books there for us to read. There should be more of these stuff in front of ICU’s and in hospital waiting areas.

I know MB’s are not a solution but then I definitely don’t think religious books are a solution either. They just talk in terms of black and white and somewhere you start judging how things came to this and if it was because of you…….. so I personally think that all hospitals should be stacked with joke books and nonsensical books rather than medical journals which make a small itch on your arm sound like skin cancer.

I guess your wondering about the title of the post. Well it is about the Supreme Court judgment last week in which the Apex court of India, the supreme court of India acknowledged the key to marital bliss is to listen to the wife. Nothing new but apparently wife holds the key to happiness and marital bliss. Even supreme court judges agree to that.

Most men I meet these days are cool with listening to their wives and I honestly foresee no threat to anybody’s masculinity considering the fact that of late a lot of researchers think that the entire male species is on the verge of extinction…… that is what these two reports say!!! you can read them here and here. Two very interesting articles that I found rather amusing last week. I am definitely not going to justify the SC’s stand because I see no point. The writing is loud and clear on the wall and very aptly so.

Will close for the day hopefully back soon and hopefully have something different and cheerful and happy to say than just sickness and depression and negativity and pessimism.

We all hope for a better tomorrow don’t we????

Phew !!! alls well at last!!!

First of all thanks all of you for your best wishes!!! Jethu is out of danger and the temporary pacemaker is off. I spent the whole of today just fretting over the doctor’s “kabhi haan kabhi na”. If it was in Pune or Mumbai I would have just got on the phone and dealt with the doctors but doctors in Kolkatta carry a massive weight of their egos and “I am God” mentality on their shoulders and I didn’t want any harm to come on Jethu so I just kept my peace for so many days.

Once I heard that he is officially out of danger and he has started cribbing, I was really happy……. you wont believe it but cribbing is a very good sign in my family. If any body of the Chakraborty household remains in bed without getting forced to do so…… alarm bells start ringing and doctors are summoned……. cribbing means that he is out of danger and right now he is giving a very bad time to all the hospital staff…… he wont stay on the bed and insists on doing things by himself. However, this rule does not apply to my generation. All of us love sleeping however bad the earth quake is.

Another good thing that happened is that the whole family came together. I was so touched to see the whole joint family come together again and running around for Jethu. I wish we didn’t have to wait for calamity for something like this to happen!!! Another good thing that all the kids of our generation agreed that the elders in the family were getting loonier and that we should not put up with their life threatening antics…….. resultant dad and my Jethus and Kakus are going to see some real changes around them!!! For one all kinds of gardening equipments are going to be kept under lock and key or thrown out secondly they are going to be seriously monitored as to the amount of activity they do……. my dad has no idea as to what is going to hit him!!!

Wait till I come Dad I am going to make your life miserable and I am going to enjoy it thoroughly!!!

I met my guide yesterday…….. I am to submit a paper in some international HR conference plus submit my research proposal and literature survey by the end of this month……. that would mean surfing/researching the net non-stop for an average of 5 to 6 hours daily………. lot of work lined up for me this month starting today!!!

I finally went to the gym today after so many days!!! The trainer seemed to have really missed me a lot because today he made me catch up with all the days I missed. Man I pushed 15 kgs dumbbells in each hand. Right now I am physically lifting my hand and putting it on the keyboard and typing and then getting it down. It is really paining and me is wondering……. who is cooking today!!!

Something happened in the gym today……. which I just have to share with you. First I have to go flashback to tell you what happened on Saturday last!!!

Flashback: Officially the gym has a timing of 11 am to 5 pm as the ladies hours. Personally I prefer to go during the ladies hour because then I am saved from the horrendous vision of all the men doing weights and showing biceps and specially because during this time the trainers (same rule in all gyms) get really excited about sprouting biceps and they get the women also to weight train and that is real bad. There is this man (lets call him Mr Room freshener) who came in the ladies hours and since he was all set…… the trainer allowed him to work out. (There a poster just like this in the gym….. for inspiration….disgusting I must say!!!)

The man started pulling and pushing iron and doing weights….. really heavy weights !!! He started sweating and his t-shirt was drenched. So he got rid of the t-shirt and started working out in his vest…… vest is also wet…….. then he starts dripping. The whole place starts stinking !!! Cant the man carry a towel…… we all do!!! All of us……. women start to leave, looking at each other and not touching the “wet” weights he had used and all of us left before time citing some reason…… mine was I had to study.

Present: I have to claim one thing here: I am extremely sensitive to smell. I cant stand heavy smells…… specially that of heavy perfumes and deos……. I get a very bad headache and in some cases start to sneeze. So today when I was doing Yoga after my hour long strenuous workout with my eyes closed…….. a weird very very strong smell attacked my nostrils!!! My eyes were closed so I did not see anything……. but the smell kept moving from the left to the right and then again left. It was irritating and my eyes and nose started to burn. So in the middle of the breathing session I started to sneeze and in my bout of sneezing I started screaming to the trainer to stop spraying so much room freshener in the gym.

Well, Mr Room Freshener decided that he did stink and decided to combat that with some really weird perfume or was it deo!!! donno but it was bad!!!

There was a mum and after I had collected my senses I realised that all the women were again making a bee line for the exit saying that they had to rush home to cook or something or the other…….. and me I suddenly came face to face with Mr Room Freshener!!! I had no business to make any kind of personal comment but was very irritated…… so I looked at him and told the trainer to please lower the amount of room freshener he sprayed in the gym and left.

After I left the gym the whole thing became so hilarious that I stopped my two wheeler and started to laugh!!! Well one improvement…… Mr Room Freshener had a towel today!!!

weekend blues…… or may be I should say blue weekend!!!

This year has not started off well and is not progressing very well!!! I lost my grand mom-in-law, then my god mother. Call me superstitious, call me coward or whatever but this is just not my year!!! till date this has been the case de facto!!!!

My bro woke me up yesterday midnight to tell me that my uncle has had two massive MIs…… and that was just the icing on the cake. All weekend I was traumatised by Ma and dad not keeping well. Yeah!!! I am a worrier!!! I worry about people falling sick all the time.

My bro told me because I am the official family fore bearer of bad news both sides….. even that of my in-laws. Anything happens to anybody….. I am informed so that I can tell the rest of the clan both sides of the bad news. This is obviously a bad job and I honestly cant see anybody waiting to take over from me. So I have to live up to it…… calling ma and then gently telling Pa that his bro is in the ICU and that he has had two subsequent massive MIs and all this in spite of the fact that I have just woken up my parents from slumber in the middle of the night and that they are both not keeping well. It is a bad job but somebody has to do it. Whether it is Ma and dad who are not keeping well or have had a bad tiff…. I am invariably roped in to calm things between them lest they end up killing each other!!! (the worse part is in such a case I cant even take sides…… if I do they gang up together to kill me) etc etc!!!

Honest to God !!! I hate the job!!! for once I wish that somebody else does it and I am the one panicking, exclaiming, doing the swooning etc etc……. but some of the luxuries in life are not given to me. All the news of the deaths in the family for the last fifteen years have been handled by me!!! Dad calls me up and asks me to tell ma that her bro-in-law is dead and Ma does the same though they are living in the same house. Sisters do the same and all of them live within 20kms of each other and me I am 130 kms away but still I do the bad job…. that too individually.
Right now I am not worried about how things are being handled by my uncles siblings but more as to how things are with him!!! He is still in ICU with the doctors refusing an angioplasty….. his arteries are all blocked and they have just installed a pacemaker. He is old…. but then men in my family never really realise that and want to accomplish the impossibles…… My grand father used to go shopping for veggies till he was in his nineties, dad walks 7 kms everyday, my uncle who is in the ICU was digging the garden when he had the MI…… can you believe it…… somebody doing digging at the age of 82. Paternal aunt does all the work in her house including even taking care of her hubby who is on bed for the last one year all single handedly and refusing help of any kind…… some family!!!

I wish I could really use the proverbial whip with these people and get them to stick to books, music, television and stuff like like all the other normal bengalis rather than changing four buses in a day to reach some god forsaken place in the heat of Pune !!! I am so mad!!! I could really give it to them which I will!!! just let him get out of the ICU!!!

Right now I am glued to the phone and I call up every half an hour much to the chagrin of my sis-in-law who is terribly irritated with me and has told me that nothing will happen to anybody almost a zillion times but then I am also the insecured maniac of the family and she just has to deal with me !!!

Just have to do the stuff the nuns at school taught us to do!!! PRAY!!! hope that helps!!! but I must say it is not helping my patience!!! I sooooo love my life………… I could kill !!!

Mahashivaratri

Today is Mahashivaratri a festival of Shiva, the Hindu God of destruction. Mythology says that anybody who fasts the whole day today and in the evening after sunset offers water on the Shiva linga is granted peace and unmarried girls a husband of their choice.

I come from a family of priests and teachers, which is truly very religious…… On this day My maternal grandfather would himself make shiv lingas with mud – one for every child and grandchild in the family and then they were worshipped fervently. At the end of the puja the idols were immersed in the Ganga.

Even today the same ritual is followed in our individual homes wherein after fasting the whole day we break our fast after offering pushpanjali and pouring a mixture of milk, curd, ghee, honey, and water on the shiva linga. This takes place in the night. So after staying hungry the whole day we do this at the night!!!! Usually midnight.

The legend has it that a very tired tribal, on the moonless night of amavasya was late, and could not return home in the night. As it was very late in the night he remained in the forest. He had not eaten anything the whole day. It was late in the night so he climbed a tree in fear of being attacked by the animals. There was a shivalinga at the base of the tree, which he had climbed. When the hungry and weary tribal rested on the tree a bel leaf touched him and fell on the shiva linga. This pleased Shiva a lot. The tribal got all that his heart wanted and since that day Shivaratri is celebrated.

In my home we have been worshipping the Shiva linga since we were very little. Every shivlinga is bathed and decorated with sandalwood and worshipped with bel leaves and white flowers – a favorite of Shiva. This is done in my household on a daily basis. It was imbibed by Ma to us since we were very little and we have done it ever since.

I recall an incident when I was little and Ma had asked me to do the daily worship of the Gods. It was a very tedious procedure and my sisters were very glad to offload the work to me. My job was to individually bathe the stone idols of Shiva (two of them) and metal Bal Gopal (three of them) and then make them wear fresh clothes and then decorate them with fresh sandalwood paste and flowers and tulsi and bel leaves.

The first couple of days I did it diligently after which the whole thing was getting rather cumbersome to me……. so I decided to take a shortcut. I took all of the five idols to the sink and washed them together under the tap. I got away doing this the first two consecutive days and the rest was not so bad……. On the third day Ma caught me in action and I was busted!!!! I tried convincing Ma that the Gods were fed up of taking a bath in a tub…… so I was giving them a shower!!! Well, what can I say!!! I was grounded!!!!

Hindu mythology is a sore topic with Hubs. He totally does not understand it. Hubs, though brought up in a similar environment as mine is totally ignorant about Hindu mythology so I really have to answer a hell lot of questions as to who is Shiva and why is Shivaratri celebrated which I normally answer rather patiently!!!

Hindu religion is quite difficult to understand for people who are non-Hindus specially when you say that there are 36 crore deities. Legends and epics like the Ramayana and Mahabharata do try to enlighten us to some of them……. but quite a few of them are the unsung heroes….. This is rather difficult to be explained but I do try!!!

Yesterday there was this conversation whose gist was rather amusing and I wanted to share it with you: In my attempts to make hubs understand the Gods in Hindu mythology….. I tried using the hierarchy theme. I was trying to explain to hubs in a language which he would understand. I tried introducing a new method of inducting him into Hindu mythology……. Since he understands the corporate structure, in true teacher ishtyle I tried using that to make him understand.

So here goes the conversation:

Rn: Bramha, Vishnu and Mahesh are the Joint Directors – wherein Vishnu holds the position of the CEO and Bramha of the Chairman and Shiva is the sleeping partner but also holds all the powers of running the company……. Though there are controversies by different sects in the Hindu religion as to who is more powerful!!!

Rj: Then what about the others???

Rn : The others are essentially Vice Presidents and HOD’s and managers in different departments.

Rj: Then who reports to whom.

Rn: They have a flat structure and they all report to the Joint Directors.

Rj: Then why do people pray to the managers and vice president why not to the individual Directors directly.

Rn: Vishnu is very difficult to please. It is very difficult to get into his good books. Bramha is more into the internal affairs of the God’s themselves. Shiva is the easiest to please but he has a bad temper and if you get in his bad books you are gone……. so it is easier to go by way of the smaller god’s in the hierarchy……. since they have the requisite powers……. and If they cannot fulfill what you ask of them; they will refer you to the department dealing with such kinds of affairs!!! So there are different Gods who are allotted different departments depending upon their core competencies!!!

Rj: What about the Goddesses???

Rn: Wives of the Directors. They have powers by themselves……….. First ladies!!!!

Darkness chronicles

I was reading some of Dhir’s forgetfulness in one of his blogs and there was this blog which mentioned how he once forgot his wife…….. you can read the same here . I really wanted to comment on that but my comment was a long one so I just linked this post to his and dedicated a post to this topic.

This incident happened a long time ago with Ma and mashi (maternal Aunt). This incident is so funny and even now years later……. almost 45 years……… everyone in the family laugh at the mention of it……. including me!!!

This happened before Ma’s marriage to Dad. Ma’s paternal aunt (Pishi) was a widow and lived with them. She had become a widow at a very young age (people used to get married very early in life then…… refer to Ballika Badhu in Colors channel). When this incident happened, she was around her 70’s and had lost all her teeth. She was usually clad in a white dhoti cloth….. which was a dressing norm of widows at that time.

Ma’s Paternal aunt wanted to go to the take a dip at the Ganges for the Gangasagar snaan Jatra. Gangasagar Snaan Jatra is basically a festival that takes place at the time of Makar Sankranti when people take a dip at the holy ganges…… something like the Kumbhmela. Lots and lots of people gather in hordes to take a dip in the Ganga at at particular auspicious time.

After a lot of consultation, Ma and mashi (maternal aunt) were designated as her companions. They left early to avoid the rush. When they reached, there were already a lot of people there. In fear of getting lost they decided to hold hands of their Paternal aunt (Pishi) lest she got lost.

Amidst all the crowds it was very easy to get lost and their Paternal aunt (Pishi) did not know her way back….. so ma and mashi were very cautious and never left her hand. They went in the waters of the Ganga together. Paternal aunt (Pishi) started saying her prayers and that took a long time for the whole thing to take place. It started becoming dark and the duo started losing their cool and started telling Pishi to hurry else they would miss the bus back.

Suddenly there was a huge influx of people who were travelling in a group who came between them and they lost Pishi!!!! Ma and mashi were totally terrified. They could not go home without her. It was getting dark and they were getting petrified. They looked for her everywhere……. but they could not find her amidst the hordes of people. It was hours and very dark when they finally saw Pishi already in the bus.

They were very happy that at last they had found her. At that time mashi noted that the bus was a wrong one. She panicked and started calling out “Pishi neme poro” (Pishi get down). Pishi said something which they could not hear. Then Mashi and ma marched into the bus and started yelling “Pishi neme poro bolchi”……. (Pishi get down I tell you) Pishi started crying and said that she would not get down. Now both of them were very agitated and dragged crying Pishi from the bus just in the nick of the time before the bus started and left.

When they alighted from the bus with Pishi they heard announcements of their names. The administration was calling them and asking them to collect their elderly relative who was waiting there in their office. They were totally disgusted with Pishi thinking that Pishi had made those people announce for them and then very conveniently went and sat in the bus. It was very dark and when they reached the temporary office of the administration where the announcements were being made. There in the light of the hurricanes they saw their Pishi waiting for them!!!

They were totally aghast!!! They had made some other old lady miss her bus. The mistake happened because of the common attire and that both old ladies looked similar in the dark. They started apologizing profusely and the old lady in question started crying more saying that these two women had made her miss her bus and now she would not be able to go home as her family had already left in the last bus.

Pishi then consoled the old lady and told her to come to their house and that her brother would leave her home the next day. It was already dark when they reached home and recounted the whole story to the family. That night amidst lots of apologies, she was given the treatment befitting a queen. She forgave my Ma and mashi. The next day my maternal uncles and grandfather all went together and left her home and apologized to her family.

My Ma and mashi were totally grounded forever and were never again sent for Ganga sagar. Even today when it is Sankrant, Mashi calls up ma and they have a great laugh over how they had kidnapped an old woman thinking it was their Pishi.

This incident still puts the whole family in a laughing frenzy and Ma who has been blamed for the incident…… since she was older of the two…… backs up her stand saying…… “It was very dark!!!”

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