Thursday, June 20, 2013

Confusion & Hope..

Trying to strain out an ounce of symphony amidst all the cacophony of this world, that is difficult task, I tell you. But that's what I do, and that's what I'm getting good at, with each passing day, as I age.

The flowers turned to fruits, and I heard the birds clamouring during Spring. Now, Spring has given way to Summer. Seasons change, I change the pages of my calender ritually and await something to change in me, something that will stir me from inside..

I have seen the canal swell when it rains too heavily..It groans and wallows with the extra load that the torrential downpour brings to it. It's a burden but a joyful one, if there's any such thing.  I long for one, for such joyful burden.

The sudden smell of wet earth that awakens my senses makes me turn my head and surprises me. It surprises me because the last time I looked, it was sunny outside, but all I saw now was an overcast sky, the imminence of rain. Does it bring hope or does it destroy the hope of something better?

Too afraid to go out on a humid afternoon, I did finally step outside and took a long walk. The wildflowers were dancing, there were droplets of water on the blades of the grasses..The Krishnachura ( Royal Poinciana ) was abounding in her fiery redness, celebrating the annual song of peak summer, the path below painted with her trampled red bounty. I picked one, brought it home. It doesn't last long, not even in some water..But the few moments of joy I spent with it was enough for me. Memories can't be measured in time. The moments are transient, it's the memories they create which matters.

You hear something, and it makes you wander. You watch a movie and you are distracted for days together.  What is it inside of you that is never satisfied, however hard you try? They say you are not grateful for the things you have. But do you know what all those things are that you can't see but others can? I see the grass is green, but why is it always greener on the other side of the road?

Life takes a twist and someone is snatched away from you. Sometimes, you can still feel them near you, sometimes you can't. But, nonetheless, you are saddened by both. To have and to hold, to have and to hold..Didn't remember that when there was still time and oppurtunity.

A flower seller's kid wanted to shake hands with me one day. I didn't hesitate and he gifted me a small rose in return- a beautiful one, yellow with carefree shades of crimson. Little things in life touches you in an unforgettable manner, makes your being here worthwhile. Makes you want to stay here forever.

Unknown birds sing outside my window. I look for them like I do for the birds whose calls I can recognize. They are all hidden away in their special cozy corners, and doesn't want to make themselves seen. But I sieve out joy in the melody of those songs I can hear, from the sorrow of not being able to see them.

There is always a certain amount of happiness in waiting. Waiting for a letter which might never arrive, for a package you ordered online although you might find faults in your purchase upon receiving it, for a flower whose bud you saw yesterday, for a bite of the cake you might be baking...The symphony amongst all the cacophony, all the confusion of life...

And there's hope. The eternal hope and the immense belief in the power of hoping. Hope that one day you will pass the test and survive. That one day, you will have to stop taking any more tests. That one day, you will see that unknown bird, and you will see all the newly hatched ducklings, lining up behind their mom and know, that this time, every one of them will survive. That one day, there will be a garden, and at it's farthest corner, there will a cherry tree, bursting with her glorious blossoms, promising me cherries, in the near future...

Monday, May 14, 2012


On a damp morning of May, the windows were closed..Everything was piled up and finally, the doors were shut...! The forlorn wind kept howling inside the deserted house, dying to come out..The staircases spoke of the thousand footprints that fell on them...The terrace kept mentioning of the happy times ... All she took were moments, and memories- that had taken shape, out of them..Memories, which would forcibly find their way back into her mind, in the years to come, irrespective of how much she tries to keep them out.. ! So much was forsaken that morning..! So much pain and agony, which even the rain that came after, couldn't wash away..So many memories which even the times to come, couldn't fade...On another such damp morning in May, almost 2 decades later, she was caught quite unawares when the wind howling outside her patio reminded her of all that she had forsaken...All that she has become in all these years couldn't overcome the guilt and the pain...The wind kept howling through the hollows of the branches, and so did the pain, inside the hollows of her heart...The rain kept thrashing against the glass as she kept watching with a vision hazed by her own tears, bewildered and dazed about how and why all those things she thought she had buried, stealthily crept back into her inner being...! 

Another rainy day...

I love when it rains...I don't know why, but it does make me want to go home to my parents...Maybe a damp, rainy day reminds me of those childhood days when we used to sit outside in the balcony and wait for baba to come home from work, and have our afternoon tea/snacks together...Maybe because, when it rained, Ma's garden turned greener, with occasional puddles here and there, which would be a hotspot to float some paper boats...
..I love when it rains...The ripples caused by the falling shower...The drops of rain creating an orchestrated music as it falls on the water, on the branches and the leaves....The pitter- patter on the asbestos roof or the tiles for a while, and then the collected rainwater guzzling out of the pipes ....The raindrops clinging on to the branches like pearls, just about to fall when ready with the perfect surface energy..A sudden zephyr touches my favorite wind chime, making it sing...An occasional bird alighting on the branches just when the sky bellows and the clouds roar ! The ducks swimming about wiggling their backs, taking in the beauty with style....A hot cup of tea and a good book while listening to your favorite music, in sync with the sound of the rain and the calls of the sky...And taking a break now and then to glance outside and admire the stunning beauty of nature....A rainy day is all you sometimes need to refresh and rejuvenate, just like nature does :) 

Memories in Music...

The leaves rustle in the branches outside the balcony, and in a moment, a sudden gust of cool breeze caresses her...She loves these sudden soothing moments, when the wind plans to change it's course and take the path facilitated by the cross ventilation in her house..She keeps turning the pages she had been turning for so many days, so many years....Her notebook - scribbled with notes, of music...Some in her own handwriting-although dating back to her teenage years, some in her music teacher's, and some in the handwriting of her beloved thamma ...She had touched those pages, and those writings in ink- and felt her always being present in her life, in all it's form and functions and  through  music.The leaves of her notebook have changed their colors with time, though not yet brittle ....The diary dates back to 1986..and it was around '87 when she started going to the neighbourhood music school, holding Ma's hands, timidly following each and everything " gaaner didimoni " told her to do...Thamma, whenever she was around, used to sit with her while she rehearshed with her newly bought harmonium in the evening, after coming back from school...Thamma would volunteer to copy down the lessons for the day from the notebook of her " gaaner didimoni " ( music teacher ) !

At that time, she never gave this strange feeling a thought...that one day, 25 yrs later, this notebook would still be with her, and she would guard it dearly, like some precious treasure.....One day, 25 yrs later, when thamma is no longer around, she will miss her but still feel her presence when she sings...

Today, while leaving through that same notebook, a smile crossed her lips, when her eyes caught the date on top of one of the pages, in Thamma's handwriting- 8/7/1988 - It was such a consuming moment for her, the sheer enormity of the feeling that passed - How could she have missed those dates on top of each day's lesson ? The humongous number of years that have gone by, as if in the batting of the eyelids, of the sudden emptiness of so many people not being around anymore...Of the  physical impression which a person leaves behind, things outlasting a person's physical presence in this earth - Thamma is no more, but she'll always be there for her-through her handwritten notes, notes that tell stories of love, blessings and a lot of other things called which comes with the relation called " Grandma " ~ ~ 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

পূজোর গন্ধ

আনন্দবাজারের পাতা খুলতেই শারদীয়া দেশ,আনন্দমেলার ad, পুজোর সাজ-গোজ ইত্যাদি নিয়ে articles - মনটা কেমন একটা হু হু করে উঠলো...সেই পুরনো দিনগুলোর কথা মনে পড়ে গেল.. সেই প্লাস্টিক-র মোড়কে নতুন শারদীয়া আনন্দমেলা, দেশ - কাগজওয়ালা এসে বাবার হাতে দিয়ে যেতো - কোনরকমে প্লাস্টিকটাকে ছিঁড়েই পড়তে বসে যেতাম...নতুন পাতার গন্ধ...কড়কড়ে নতুন পাতা ওল্টানোর আনন্দ....নতুন বই তো এখনো পড়ি- কিন্তু " পুজো " বলে শব্দটি বাঙালির মনে যে অন্য ভাবের জাগরণ আনে, তেমনটি আর কিছু বা কেউ আনেনা..একটা মাস ( আশ্বিন ) কে ঘিরে, একটা ঋতু ( শরৎ ) কে ঘিরে, পূজোকে ঘিরে কত হাজার স্মৃতি থেকে যায় মানুষের মনে...যতই বড় হয় ওঠোনা কেন, সেই স্মৃতি সবসময় প্রিয় থাকে, আর যেন পেছনে টানে ....

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

For the love of Ellis Bell

"Nelly, I cannot express it; but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is, or should be an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of creation if I were entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff's miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning; my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger; I should not seem a part of it. My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods. Time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees — my love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath — a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff — he's always, always in my mind — not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself — but as my own being — so, don't talk of our separation again — it is impracticable."
- Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights, Ch. 9
"Catherine's face was just like the landscape--shadows and sunshine flitting over it in rapid succession; but the shadows rested longer, and the sunshine was more transient..."
- Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights, Ch. 27
I'm glad that Emily Bronte didn't write another novel, bcoz for me one masterpiece in a lifetime is much so that it has been haunting me lovingly for the last 15 yrs...Haunting me ever so dramatically on cloudy, gloomy days like today..Bleak nights when you can only hear the sounds of the lightning and the empowered clouds roaring with occasional downpour...Making me wonder about that love which destroys everything around you,yet makes you pine for a love of the llikes of such a love...All those impassioned writings enlaced in my soul and  like tyrannical thoughts,returns again and again to torment my heart..on days like these.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

And there was darkness....

A few moments of absolute darkness..Waiting with hope that “ there will be light “ in a few minutes..Then groping for the candles and matchbox in various drawers,uncertain where they might be ..Nothing to do – minutes turn into hours..frantic calls to the power company – They say it’ll be a while before the power comes back on..I sit in the darkness of my living room,and stare at the flickering light of the candle-Something in that light conveys a soothing ,warm sensation through my eyes into my whole body..Yes,I feel relaxed…There’s nothing to do, and there is a sense of relaxation connected with that vacuum created by the sudden power failure.. It’s amazing how the slow,sensual dance of a flame transports you to a world of relaxation and new perspective , and eventually you fall in love with the darkness..

I look at the little knickknacks in my organized living room in a “ different light “ – Like so many great painters I have heard or read of, I analyzed those “ still “ objects in that faint illumination…..
I can actually listen to the clock ticking,and I love the tick-tock sound..Reminds me of the grandfather clock in my grandparent’s home ..The sound and that memory creates a gradual cooling sensation in my mind,like the menthol does to your throat…

Who would have thought that a power failure would be a blessing in disguise ? A welcome change, a spa hour for your brain,for your mind..Although I worried about the stuff in my refrigerator,that slender mass of wax did some magic..I even wanted to read a book in that candle light.. 

What did that flame teach me ? That you can be soft and still spread warmth,light and happiness, that in softness lies the power to make people around you feel at ease…that there will be some people who would appreciate the shadow you cast around you and the soft glow of your radiant aura ..

As I stared at the slow dancing  flame, I felt all this while I had been so distracted from my inner thoughts…I was thinking but not thinking at all.. there was so much going on around many things exciting my different senses,so many tempest in my teapot…that I wasn’t concentrating really on anything.. Tonight, with this sudden darkness that has befallen me, I could rewind and refresh,even for a little while..I could listen to the raindrops outside..I could fall harder in love  with Rabindranath’s words in this subtle atmosphere…I needed this shadow,this silence and the music created by their union…I have always loved nighttime..I have always loved darkness…but not like this…not like tonight ~ ~

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Esho BaagDevi ( Welcome Baag Devi / Ma Saraswati )

For those who haven't tasted this fruit,it's very difficult for me to explain what it tastes like and what other emotions are interconnected with one bite of this fruit..Bengalis call this " Kuul " and it is known as " Ber " in hindi...Fruit of a spiny,  medium sized comes in 2 varieties - Roundish and maroon red ones,known as " Topa kuul " in bengali and the greenish,oval ones ( pic above ) called " Narkuule kuul " ( or coconut-ish ),maybe because the taste resembles so much like that of raw coconut...

Significance- These fruits are one of the most crucial prasad of Saraswati Pujo..They start ripening around the time of Saraswati Pujo..mid-feb-march..And one of our favorite jobs as kids were to stand beneath the plants we had in our garden,spreading out a big sheet of cloth in our hands,while our " Maali " ( gardener ) used to shake the plant vigorously...Beautiful green or red berries used to fall ..and we collected them and reported the collection to the headquarters ( read Mom ) ...That is the only fun part...Rest is just an immense amount of  hope that the day of the pujo would draw near as soon as possible,because we were not allowed to taste even half of a berry-The myth was we would lose all our intelligence & fail in our next exams,if we eat these berries before the day of saraswati Pujo..So,we waited and waited..and stared at these delectable delicacies until the D-day,and hogged on them till our stomaches ached after they had been offered to the goddess and she has accepted her offering....We never ever questioned why would eating a fruit cause someone to fail in any exams..And such is the importance of values instilled in us in our childhood,that even though after so many years, for the 1st time in US,I found these berries in a local indian grocery last week..I carefully stored them , to eat them only after I had offered them to the goddess...

Saraswati Pujo-A day like so many other days for which we waited all year round..A day which meant there won't be any studies...because we made sure to hoard all our books,copies,pen and stuff and deposit it around the protima the evening before..The evening before,Baba used to do Ganesh Puja..I waited for the prasad which consisted of motichur laddoo...Then Baba used to bring out the protima of Saraswati,clean out the area and ask us to bring our belonging and place it around the goddess..We brought all our school stuff,my music stuff..Mom's cookery books,Dad's books..and arrange it around the goddess..Then came the decorations,alpona...The morning of the pujo, we were forced out of bed by dad...was forced to bath in the chilly morning,wear fresh clothes and my job was to help dad with cutting the prasad,preparing the chandan and the flowers...Then,Baba used to do the pujo and we offered our puspanjali ...followed by prasad..Many a times,neighbourhood kids or dad's colleagues used to come and baba used to do the " haathe khori " ..We used to be so proud...

We used to have a picnic lunch of khichuri,bhaja,chutney,labra our garden...It was just heavenly..Going to the pandal,dressed up in Mom's saree and jewellery....participating in local cultural programs or just a small get together with baba-ma's friends at someone's house..sumptuous dinner,songs and merry-making..Baba used to do the " sondhya aroti " at home..Those were the days...Oh , I forgot-We had to go to our school every year where we had a huge pujo celebration,with rangoli competition,science exhibition,lunch,cultural program and prize distribution for class toppers..Then,after coming back..Maa had these immense store of energy to start with her " sheetol shoshti " preparation- Till late at night..Ma used to cut all the vegetables and prepare 4-5 course meals consisting of different curries,fried vegetables, chutney made of " kuul " , basmati rice etc...These were offered to the goddess and eaten cold ( " sheetol ) the next day..This was done for the well-being of the children ( that's why the name " shosthi " ) ...And it tasted heavenly..My Mom still prepares the whole fare and I miss it every year..

Gone are those I sit here in front of my laptop reminiscing and typing away,a strange pain shoots away in my heart,an agony,a pining..A pain which will never go away and only get bigger with each passing those days moves even farther and farther away...
Happy Saraswati Pujo & Vasant Panchami !!

Friday, January 14, 2011


 It's funny when you think how much this day of a wintry month can mean so much to us Indians..Makar Sankranti for some, Poush Sankranti for us Bengalis,Bihu,Maghi,Uttarayan, many festivities come together on this day all throughout India...The end of winter and the onset of the Harvest Season ...and the beginning of an auspicious phase marked by zealous fanfare and granduer celebrations...With the names being different,the food and the festivities are bound to be different..but each follow the same central theme-The beginning of harvest..and this theme is reflected in the food ..On Lohri,peanuts & til are thrown into the fire...Eating ghazzak made of til and gur or of peanuts and gur is a very traditional way to celebrate Sankranti . Oh, what I wouldn't do to get a bite of that ghazzak or rewaris right now ?? 
At home,we celebrate this day with loads of Pithe-Puli - the sweet delicacies, in different shapes and forms....with rice flour,Khejur guur ( date palm syrup ) or jaggery,grated coconut and milk playing the central characters in the making of these delicacies.Some are fried,some are steamed,some are rolled in the form of pancakes...But the sounds that emanate from the creatures deriving pleasure from a bite of these delicacies are all the same..Lots of ooohhs and aahhhhs and ah haas..and oh hooos....

I didn't care much for this day,when I was a kid or was at home...All the pithe-puli surrounding me didn't wow me that much..I even remember people, Ma being one of those people,trying to force feed me those yummy delicacies , followed by a bout of screaming,shouting and shedding of tears...
But something happened when I went to unversity..Staying away from home,meeting all these new people and learning their culture from a closer distance,enjoying the same festivities in a different scenario..made me realise what I've been missing for so long..what I have missed out...They made me embrace this festival with a new  ardor..

Varanasi,holiest place in the world according to Hindus...and if luck throws you and Makar Sankranti together in this holy city for 5 years..what is created is sheer magic...Fun times with friends on the ghats of Ganges, those boat rides on the chilly,foggy morning on the Ganges,floating diya in the waters after the grand Aarti in the evening on the Ghats,eating loads of  good food , watching the sky getting enshrouded with thousands of colorful kites..and the moody sun showing his face when he wishes to or not....And the smell of the people,food,bovine,incense,frankincense and fog-all mixed together..Yes,if you had been there,you would remember that smell throughout your life.

Those and much more had been Makar Sankranti to me, and will always be,for days to come...Happy Sankranti everyone !!  


Monday, December 6, 2010

Melange of emotions !!

Sunshine at Niagara Falls ( 2010 )

 Does any relationship have an expiration date ? Like it happens with so many other perishable things,if one stores love with care to save it for a later time,does it perish or expire,specially if forgetten ? Perhaps,relationships do expire when left unattended.With time,they become enshrouded with mold and start to decay without your knowledge..and suddenly they disappear,leaving us thinking of so many things that could have happened or could have been done with little more attention to details,perhaps !! The expiration of a connection is like the end of an era..although they leave us with a melange of emotions-memories and flashbacks,and lots of dejection....And we always muse if it's truly justified to mourn such an expiration- for such a relationship  perhaps was merely the fruits of one's dream or desire..Things we wanted and how we wanted them to happen..Or maybe there was some history to it but that was all there was to it,and such history had no recent past,present or future-But you held on to them as your own anyways... and mourned them when they eventually happened to vanish...Does just holding on to such history,just by force even if there was not even a silk thread stringing them to the present..and not letting them go,make them rightfully ours ? Loss of something which we had lost a long time ago and whatever has been left of it- having been losing the rest of it  in small doses everyday..doesn't really qualify as a sudden loss or expiration....But still,why do we,humans-crave for something which many a times is not befitting or doesn't rightfully  belong to us ? Why don't we allow the spilled liquid to dry and just accept the stain ??!