Golden Days Of Childhood
Golden Days Of Childhood5 mins 572 5 mins 572
"Ashwiner sharodo praate, beje othe....." "Get up, get up, it's already 4:30 am. We should go to the Ganga!", said Maa.
Yes, that was how my Mahalaya mornings used to start with Maa waking me up to walk to the Ganga, 2 mins away, take a bath and pray to God. I and Maa used to perform this ritual and come back home, wear new clothes, pray to God and watch the Mahalaya episode on the television from 5:00 am. Maa used to continue listening to the age-old famous recording by Birendra Krishna Bhadra on the radio and I enjoyed the whole history of how Maa Durga, mother of four, successfully brought an end to Mahishasura. I watched how exactly all the Gods blessed her with ten weapons and finally with the Trishul, she brought the final well over evil. I was more excited about this day than the actual Puja.
After a week, when the half-yearly exams were finally over and that it was time for me and Maa to go to granny's place, my stomach used to be a storehouse of butterflies!
Sashti marked the actual beginning of my excitement when we used to visit the big pandals in Kolkata from 2:30 at night, hoping that the crowd is a little less and also in the wish to stand a witness to the historical and unimaginable lighting systems created at an international level! After returning back home, Saptami was reserved for the local pandals. That is the day when early morning brings the welcome of Kola Bou to the family, make her wear a new saree and place her beside Lord Ganesh. The enjoyment is something inexplicable!
Then came Ashtami. Another important day because of many reasons. Observing fast to offer Pushpanjali to Maa Durga and praying to her for everything that is needed throughout the year, good health of near and dear ones occupying the top of the list. That was the place to place all the complaints to Maa and wishes and sharing all the secrets that perhaps I could never share with anyone. Not to forget, Maa Saraswati and Maa Lakshmi for the wisdom, knowledge, and prosperity, and Lord Ganesh and Lord Kartik for special secrets!
Being a kid, all that amazed me and made me stand in awe in front of Maa, was how she managed to keep everyone and everything at home at the place and be the ultimate saviour to the world. Dad used to lift me up in his arms and take me to the place nearest to Maa, as much as was possible, to give the best view and explain how Ganesha is so fond of Laddoos and other amazing beliefs. After talking my heart out with Maa and her kids with folded hands, I used to come back home and have my favourite 'luchi and aloo' with mishti made by mom. Next comes the most interesting part. We had lunch and got ready to visit granny's place. The number of butterflies in my stomach at that level might be more than the cumulative aggregate of all butterflies combined in the Earth! Do you know the reason? Because I was the closest to my Grandma. Throughout the year, she would keep waiting for this time to come so that she can meet us. And I used to be eager to meet my aunts, my grandpa, and grandma of course.
When we were 3 mins away from her house, telepathy used to bring her to the gate and stand there with a sweet smile there, awaiting with tears of joy. She used to hug me there and bring me to the house and my joy knew no bounds. So Ashtami was well spent when we visited a few pandals on the way too. The next day neared and my sadness started elevating. It was almost time that Maa would leave us and go back to Kailash. On Navami, I went with grandma and grandpa to the local areas and had loads of icecreams and chocolates. It looked as if grandpa wanted to compensate what he couldn't feed me throughout the year, in a single day. Then as the day came to an end, was Dashami. Maa, Grandma, and the other aunties used to perform rituals with vermillion and feed sweets to Maa Durga that she was about to leave. Bengalis don't celebrate Durga Puja with fancy dresses and food, they do it with pure EMOTION ('abeg' to be precise). With tears in everyone's eyes, Maa Durga is taken on a procession for immersion and with loud joyous shouts of "Asche bochor abar hobe" (looking forward to the same in the next year), we send Maa Durga happily but with heavy hearts back to her place.
Three to four days later, we celebrate Lakshmi Puja and when that comes to mind, we feel a little better. On the morning of Lakshmi Puja, Grandma used to teach me, how to draw the symbols of Maa Lakshmi's footsteps at the entrance of our house.
A day later, Maa and I returned back home. Grandma tried her best to keep me back for a few days more but the increasing pressure in academics and the end of Puja vacation didn't let that happen. I also returned back crying throughout the journey. School used to reopen after a day and again the same old routine used to resume!
It's been 10 years since then that this has not been followed. We are all so busy in our lives that we have forgotten to actually live the emotions of life. Where is all of it lost? Where is our childhood? Will we never get it back? Today even when I go to Granny's place, everything is the same, only the person standing earlier at the gate, having the special power of telepathy, with tears of joy in her eyes or trying her best to keep me with her for a day extra, is no more.