November 5, 2010

Dilwaali Diwaali

There is a dark gully visible from my window. Throughout the year, when the roads are dark at night, the degree of visibility in that particular gully is determined by the extent of waxing or waning the moon exhibits then. The reverse holds as well, and there is this half-finished abandoned-building of a project right across that gully. I have mentioned this building several times before. How certain guys hanging out on the rooftop remind me of Chandler and Joey, and how the moonlight incident on the unused, jutting-out concrete cables makes me poetic, Concrete-jungle moon-sparks et al, and also once about the Blue Windows on the finished portions of the building. Tonight, however, is not quite like the other days of the year. On the occasion of Diwali, there are heavy laces and frills of light wrapped around all the buildings lining the gully, for the purpose of beautification. And though, just like certain Elizabethan literature heroines, these laces and frills seem to suffocate the buildings, the end of beautification has been amazingly addressed. Also, Kali Pujo is the only festival celebrated at the tiny little club in the immediate paara, so there’s a typical Orange-white temple-shaped pandal erected in the grassless field between the gully and our complex. So my room is lit up, red, green and blue. The ‘tuni-bulbs’ lining the box-grills of my window act to the effect, and if only I was a little stoned, my room would have felt like a live hard-rock cafĂ©, for I even have Vintage Rock from the 60’s and 70’s and some really mellow Sikkimese music playing on the laptop.
Tonight, incidentally, is All Souls’ Day. Bangalis refer to it as Bhoot Chaturdashi. Souls descend on the Western Hemisphere on Hallowe’en. And then their Eastern Counterparts follow suit on Bhoot Chaturdashi. The minute graveyards at Kumardhubi might come awake tonight. Mrs. Jean McGinn, my beloved kindergarten teacher, she might come to visit her son, who threw her out of home, forcing her to eke out an embarrassing living out of rendering private tuitions even after retirement. I hope her soul comes back to avenge the injustice meted out to her. I remember how she was the first person to have put me on a pedestal of importance, by making me class monitor in kindergarten. I have been dethroned from and reinstated into that pedestal a lot of times since, but she made me feel important for the first time I remember, so that love for her, that reverence, I can still feel, FRESH inside me.I didn’t plan this note out; it is just taking a shape of its own. I remember how, before the first day of kindergarten, when Ma brought home news about Mrs Mc Ginn being my class teacher from the orientation program, I had sobbed for an entire day, out of fear arising out of having been allotted the scariest teacher, ‘who threw dusters to burst her students’ skulls’, in the school as Class Teacher. Now when I look back in retrospect, how unfounded and baseless the worrying of that afternoon seems.

The other time, when on Bhoot Chaturdashi morning in 2002, we landed up at the Hazaribagh National Park, and Buiya and I hatched plans of staying back at the National Park, at one of the cottages without electricity, (because we had no such prior plans, there were no proper-cottages booked for us), and how excited we got at the prospect of being visited by spirits from the dead as also Indian Tigers and jackals in the same night, and how disturbed and miserable we had been left feeling, when our parents didn’t approve of the idea, and rejected such a brilliant adventure just because they were worried about the mosquitoes. Both Buiya and I had refused to speak through the entire journey back.
The Diwali of 2005, the year when a blast had ripped the heart of Dilli just before the festival of lights, and our Tarumitra Nature Convention at St. Patrick’s, Asansol, where we planted trees, and socialized with people from other schools, and marveled at the sheer size of the Boys’ Dorms at St. Vincent’s, and the wonderful nature walks, the magnitude of the combined complex of Patrick’s, Vincent’s and Loyola. Also, Francisco Almeida, his attempts at teaching me those little nuances of Portuguese, and the way I was taken into the Anglo Indian Dinner Ceremony, long after the others had made the phone-calls back home, and had returned to the dorms and taken to their beds, and how I saw the art works by the Christian Brothers, and how impressed I had been at the sheer creativity and talent of the young artists. Also, discovering the half-dead rat-baby on the corridors, and handing it over to the Big Man, the planner of the event. The staying up nights with Alok, and dozing through the seminars and sessions the next day. And how Mrs. Sriparna Choudhury, perhaps the calmest and sweetest lady, and teacher ever, passed away to a minor accident a fortnight after this, and how shocking the incident was for the entire neighborhood-town.
Diwali in Jharkhand was so cold, snug and cute. Diwali meant November, and Chhath, and the men and women walking towards the Chhat-Ghat in colorful, fluorescent sarees and translucent shirts, and the huge assortment of gifts to the Sun God they all carried on their heads.Chhat would also mean ‘thekwas’. Every building was lined with diyas, and tuni bulbs, and the temperatures would hover between 9 degrees and 12 degrees, and even then there would be invitations from every house in the colony for the ‘parsad khaana’. Since every house housed a patient of my father or a student of my mum, there would always be the extra respect associated with being Daktarshaab or Medam’s son. A lot of this I have left behind forever. There’s no returning to any of it. But I have tonight. Suddenly now, I’m wishing there wasn’t so much light flooding in through the window. Maybe I’d be visited by a friendly soul. Or maybe Peeves. Mayukh reminds me of Peeves, it is funny really. Tomorrow is KaliPujo/Diwali 2010. Another one in the history of my life, to be fondly recalled later maybe?

1 comment:

Olive Oyl said...


we all are the victims (or perpetrators) of the same corollary, some time or the other. :)