Sunday, September 27, 2009

There he stands in the corner. Barefeet. Clad in a white vest with holes & a dhoti. He stands there with the dhaak, almost doubling up with the weight of the instrument. The organiser tells him to play the dhaak from time to time. He obeys. Suddenly the sound of dhaak bursts into the pandal. He is playing the dhaak in a frenzy. Smoke from the arati engulfs the pandal. The sound of the bell in the hands of the pujari fills the air. But it all gets engulfed by the sound of the dhaak. Strong, singular, powerful, exhilarating,invigorating, towering above everything else. That's how the sound of the dhaak is. Wait. That description matches that of Maa Durga too! Maybe she resides in the dhaak. Thats what gives the old, frail dhaaki to play the dhaak in such a frenzy. Thats what gives him the strength to continue playing for hours at a stretch, to stand barefeet in the magnum pandal for hours, the strength to continue playing without thinking of his own joy or his family,the strength to swallow the harsh words & insults from the organisers if he slips in his job,the strength to withstand the huge crowd which doesn't even bother to glance at the dhaki, the strength to supress his jealousy when he sees all the people wearing new clothes & wasting money,while he struggles to draw up just two square meals a day for himself & his family.

But its the festive spirit. Its the joyous time of the year, when everyone is busy frolicking, forgetting all their differences & troubles. Its the time to be happy. But isnt it also the time to keep others happy? Cant we spare a thought for all those who are not so lucky to celebrate & join the festive spirit? Cant we care for the old,frail dhaaki standing in a corner of the pandal, or the 12-year old balloon seller who instead of spending a happy time pandal hopping with other kids, is roaming around streets looking for customers so that he can have a proper meal, or the man selling hats & whistles,struggling to find customers to buy his cheap ware,or maybe the old woman standing at the pandal asking for alms?

It's time we look around us. It's time we start caring. Durga pujo is all about ending of evil. So its time we come forward & take an initiative to end the evils plaguing our society.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Letter From Diya

Rummaging through old books,
I found it.
A letter.
Old, brown & spotted.
A letter from my grandmother.
A letter from Diya.

The letter has a smell.
A peculiarly, familiar smell.
The smell of old books &
all things forgotten?
No.Its her.
I smell her in the letter.
She is with me again.
Invisible yet present.
Intangible yet full-bodied.
I can feel her again.
Feel her after nine,long years.

The year 2000, reads the letter.
She writes about her trip to the U.S.A,
Her visits to the Niagra Falls
& the Yellowstone National park.
Her excitement is visible.
Infectious even.
I read the letter thrice.
Each time scourging the letter,
to find any missed detail,
to find something New.
I find Nothing.
The letter does not change.

The letter is meant for a 10-year old.
As I read it,
I find myself transforming.
Transforming into the 10-year old ME.
The girl,who received the letter,
nine,long years ago.
A girl, bubbling with excitement
on receiving an American stamped letter.

As I read the letter,
I realise how much I miss her.
Nine years is a long time.
Time is a fast healer,they say.
It makes you forget.
But one look at the letter,
& I know its all false.
As long as I live,
I will always love & miss her.
My Diya.
The letter is not a letter anymore.
Its her.
She lives in it.Its her.
The woman I call Diya.