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
"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 enough..so 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
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 me..so 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
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 plant..it 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 & knowledge..plus 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 etc..in 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 days..as 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 years..as 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,Pongal....so 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 !!