It has been quite an incredible experience to capture the best moments from January, February and March, April, May, June and July, August and September. In today’s post, I write about the most cherished memories from October – a month filled with festivals and November – a month I wish I could delete from the calendar every year.
October holds a special place in my heart because of my fond memories of Durga Puja. While I have never been very keen on celebrating this festival after losing my mother, last year I made a conscious choice to let my toddler understand the significance and joy associated with this festival by helping him be a part of it. And this year, the unofficial childhood club formed by my husband and his friends began its first-year journey of conducting Durga Puja. A group of people with a strong sense of belonging to the took everyone by surprise as the festival turned out to be a grand success with everyone soaking in the emotions of joy and bliss.
The first post of Recap series had featured my most precious picture from January this year. Moving on to the memories created in the next two months, I realized that both these pictures had a feeling of a homecoming for me.
The month of February saw us visiting my father’s ancestral home in a small village called Balia in Bengal. My father had spent ten years of his childhood in this village before moving out to a town for higher studies. He finished his graduation from a college in the same town and then shifted to Calcutta for his post-graduation. After becoming the University topper, he chose to return back to the same small town and join as a Lecturer at his alma mater. I have never seen a man so content to give up lucrative offers and opportunities to stay close to his family in a place which gave him a sense of belonging. Even today at the age of 70, he ensures to visit his ancestral home at least once a month to meet his eldest sis-in-law and my cousin brothers. This February, we decided to take our toddler to Balia to let him have a feel of the emotions that define his maternal grandfather. It was a delight to see him enjoy and explore the place which still retains some memories of the bygone era.
On behalf of soniasmusings.com, I wish you and your family a very happy and prosperous Deepavali/Diwali. This is also the time when we, as Bengalis worship the power of Goddess Kali. May this festival lights bring happiness and peace in our life as the Goddess showers you with strength and blessings.
In case you have been a regular reader of my blog, you might have been wondering why there hasn’t been much of an activity on my site recently. Well, I realized that I have been writing continuously since the month of April this year and as solopreneurs, it is our own responsibility to take a break for our physical and mental well-being. The festival of Durga Puja was the period when I had some time to introspect and I consciously decided to take a little over a week-long break from writing. My next post for the month that I intend to publish next week will talk about the importance of taking mindful breaks for a solopreneur/entrepreneur/self-employed individual.
Come November which is known for the NaNoWriMo campaign. It is the national novel writing month where authors work round the clock to finish that novel of minimum 50,000 words or more. After the love that my first novel Deal of Death received, I had been planning to write the second book of the Raya Ray series. So the happy news is that I have finally started working on it through announcing the book The Corpse Connection (tentatively named) as the second novel on the NaNoWriMo official site. With the hectic schedule that NaNoWriMo demands and daily writing target for a set word count, I will be in a condition to post just one article per week.
In the meanwhile, you might want to have a look at my previous posts categorically here –
It’s that time of the year again when the wait for the biggest celebration for a Bengali household comes to an end with the arrival of Mahalaya. For the next ten days, all that one can hear a Bengali talk about is how Durga pujo is nothing short of an emotion. It doesn’t matter in which city you are going to celebrate pujo this year. It could be Berhampore/Murshidabad, Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, New York or London because the level of excitement always stays the same.
Mahalaya in my childhood meant the beginning of school holidays. Preparation began the night before as Ma pestered me to sleep early while ensuring that Baba kept the radio station sorted out for the wee hours of the morning. Sharp at 4 am, she woke up every year to turn on the radio. I would snuggle up to them with sleepy eyes as Mahishashur Mardini was aired on All India Radio. Birendra Krishna Bhadra chanted the verses of Chandi Kavya/Path while devotional songs played during intervals.
And then Doordarshan came up with a Mahalaya special episode of Mahishashur Mardini. My parents would watch till the end as I dozed off intermittently. Baba would next go to the local sweet shop Mitali and get us Kachori, Aloo Dum and misthi. I still feel those were the only motivating factors for me to wake up so early.
I normally spent the day reading books that I would stack up for the last few months. These were called pujabarshikis because these annual magazines were published only during pujo. For me, Anandamela pujabarshiki meant the world though we also got Shukhtara, Desh, Sananda and Anandalok. This hasn’t changed over the years. Last year I had written a post on how this is a gift from my father that I eagerly wait for every year. This year, I am hoping to get it when I travel to Berhampore this 12th.
As a child, Holi was the festival that I would eagerly wait for every year. The colours had to be dissolved in water, the buckets filled with coloured water had to be taken outside and then began the crazy session of applying colour on each other using pichkari(spray or water gun). We had to be literally dragged back home somewhere in the late afternoon after countless requests fell flat on the deaf ears. By then we had so many layers of colours that our faces would have gone beyond recognition. The bigger challenge was for the parents to scrub those colours off the skin. Normally it took a couple of days or more to get back to our natural skin colour. But that enthusiasm filled childhood made us run out with abir/gulal(coloured powder) in the evening again. Yet we had been carefully taught not to apply colour on anyone who refused to be a part of the festival. The concept of consent had been cautiously inculcated within us.