Memories from 2018 – Recap series (Feb & March)

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.

FEBRUARY

The remnants of the past at Balia
The remnants of the past at Balia

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.

MARCH

Celebrating the festival of colors.jpg
Celebrating the festival of colors

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Memories from 2018 – Recap series (January)


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NaNoWriMo in November has been quite an exhausting journey. This month, I have barely managed to write just two posts until now. However, I must admit that I have consciously started practicing the concept of a mindful break for a quarter now. So, I decided to let go of my guilt for not writing enough and instead cater to the need of my mind and soul.

Yesterday, I had been running through the pictures gallery on my laptop thinking of utilizing them to make another personalized item. I have a huge fetish for anything personalized – be it a notebook, a calendar, a mug or picture frame. It was during this process of reliving memories that I decided to do a series capturing the most special moments of this year every month. This has been a quite significant year both personally and professionally. So in the next series of posts, I would be sharing twelve different pictures from each month of this year featuring my most precious memories.

JANUARY 2018

Saraswati Puja - Jan 2018 - Recap series
Saraswati Puja – Jan 2018

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But The Ideology Needs To Live On…My winning story for Muse of the Month August @Women’s Web

The Muse of the Month series by Women’s Web focuses on stories that pass the Bechdel test and are written on inspiration from a new prompt every month.

The requirement to pass the Bechdel Test is it should have at least two well crafted, named women characters

  • who talk to each other
  • on topics other than men or boys.

This month, the prompt was “Just Living Is Not Enough…”

and story But the ideology needs to live on..” made it to the list of top five winning stories for the month.

Here’s a snippet of the story –

Mukti confirmed the late running of the train with the coach attendant. Keeping the Miss Marple novel on the tray in front of her seat, she dialed her father in frustration, “Baba, you can reach the station by 10:30 p.m. The train is late by an hour and I am not even halfway through my journey yet.

After hanging up, she felt bad for her father who was staying up late tonight to escort her back home. With the rising incidents of crime in her hometown, she had stopped pretending to act indifferent and chose to exercise precaution instead. She was considering a call to her boyfriend when the train screeched to an abrupt halt.

Suddenly the AC compartment had an inflow of goons carrying lathis, rods, and sickles. They started scanning the faces of the passengers, especially that of the ladies.

Mukti was scared to death. She had started dreading the annual trip to her native Bhirugram of late. The town with more than fifty percent of the tribal population of Adivasis had seen a marked rise in Maoist activities. Despite the fact that her house was far away from the jungle where the Adivasis resided, people in her locality had also started getting affected by the ongoing tussle between the police forces, the State Government and the Adivasis labeled as Maoists.

Her father, a school teacher in Bhirugram had been disappointed at her decision to move to Mumbai for her doctorate but chose to stay supportive. She had been pestering her mother about their relocation to Mumbai since her father was due to retire in less than a year, but her pleas went unheard.

Read the full story on Women’s web here.

Happy Diwali and update on NaNoWriMo


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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.

The toddler at a Kali Puja Pandal during Diwali
The toddler at a Kali Puja Pandal during Diwali

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 –

Writing Challenges/Fiction

Fun Challenges/Photography

Personal

Social Issues

E-book

A2Z challenge

My friend Alexa

Travel

Food/ Restaurant reviews

Movie reviews

Parenting

Book reviews

I wish you all a safe and fun-filled Diwali. Also, please remember to pass on the spirit of celebration through sharing and caring.

Love in the age of technology


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Zain glanced through the messages of his old school buddies Whatsapp group. Most of his friends had pictures clicked during the ongoing Durga Puja as their Whatsapp status. Some of them had updated Whatsapp status video related to pandal hopping and celebration.

Despite belonging to a different religion, Durga Puja had always held a special place in his life because of his best friends, the twins Samay and Srestha. But the equations changed on a different night of Puja, twelve years back.

The three of them were soon to leave for different cities for higher studies. Zain had been dating Srestha for six months then. Before he got an opportunity to talk to Samay about their relationship, Samay had walked into Srestha hugging Zain on their terrace on that unfortunate night.

Samay had asked Zain to choose between their friendship and his love for Srestha immediately. Zain had picked their friendship at the cost of breaking Srestha’s heart. Zain left his hometown next month with a vow to never return again.

Srestha had been married to Samay’s senior in Engineering college three years back. This year, she had returned back home with a broken spirit and bruised body after months of physical abuse by her husband. Zain had come to know about it through the Whatsapp group.

Even after so many years, he had kept his heart sealed for Srestha. He waited for the day when Samay could display the requisite faith in their friendship to let him take his relationship with Srestha to the next level. Until then, Zain kept the flame of hope alive in his life through his unrequited love for Srestha.

Passing on the joy of celebration – Mahalaya special


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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.

A pandal created out of drums -Pujo 2017
A pandal created out of drums -Pujo 2017

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.

Throwback - Pujo 2017
Throwback – Pujo 2017

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.

Open Air Durga Pujo - Pujo 2017
Open Air Durga Pujo – Pujo 2017

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.

Anandamela Pujabarshiki last year
Anandamela Pujabarshiki last year

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The skeletons tumbled out as I chose to speak the truth

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I grew up in a household where speaking the truth was not just encouraged but diligently practiced. Baba always believed that when one speaks the truth, one always stays true to their conscience. Besides the stated facts always stay the same. Ma had the same version personalized when she had asked me to always be the first one to let them know the truth, even if it was something that might leave them appalled. Such principles shaped my nature and character in such a way that I grew extremely close and comfortable with my parents. I knew that I was believed in my house and was one of the strongest factors that built my confidence. The only not so likable attribute that I developed because of speaking the truth was my inability to sugar-coat my words or be diplomatic in my approach.

#MeToo was a movement started last year by Tarana Burke that exposed monsters like Harvey Weinstein. Since then, there have been skeletons tumbling out of closets everywhere. However, it is only recently that this movement gained mass momentum in India after Tanushree Dutta called out Nana Patekar in a decade-old case of harassment. And for the past few days, there have been stories about media personalities, journalists, writers and stand up comics. People like Utsav Chakraborty, Gautam Adhikari, Kiran Nagarkar, Kailash Kher and many others have been called out by women who have faced harassment in their hands. India has finally woken up to #MeTooIndia and #TimeUp movement.

Amidst all this, I realize how pathetic the state of affairs is in our country. Is there any girl who has not faced harassment at any level ever? Right from being groped in crowded buses, receiving unsolicited pictures of private parts, getting masturbated at and being felt up, the list seems to be endless. Beyond a point, every girl has learned to keep her sixth sense in the maximum alert mode and be armed with a device for protection like a pepper spray. Even I have had the most horrible experiences. Most of these abusers were random people whose perverted minds derived pleasure from such sickening acts. But what does one do when this kind of sexual predator lurks in their closest circle!

S has been a family friend for ages. His father had been my Baba’s friend and mentor. Despite the huge age difference, I grew up calling S as Dada (elder brother in Bengali). I had met him many times as a child and always found him to be affectionate and caring towards me. So, I was taken aback when I felt his hands brush my chest area on the pretext of picking up a paper from the table. I was barely thirteen then. But I was so sure that it had happened by mistake that I forgot about it soon. Unfortunately, this started becoming a pattern very soon. I met him during family functions and festivals and each time he made me so uncomfortable that I started avoiding him. The mere sight of him would make me run indoors. Sadly, my parents loved him like their own son and they could never understand my sudden disappearances. The hide and seek game went on for another two years till it was my board exams and I was excused from attending all events until I completed my exams.

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