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The Immersion

The Immersion

5 mins 16.5K 5 mins 16.5K

This is the 15th year of Tarun Sangha's Durga Puja. For the last few years Abir and Joy have been in the leading role in the puja committee. This year they have got a new boy - Aleek. He is emerging in the forefront. People know that he is a little bit less than the average boys in intelligence. But that does not prevent him from collecting money, going to order the Durga idol, paying advance to the pandal builder and so many other nitty-gritties of a Durga puja. He is laboring hard to make the puja a grand success. This puja is just an ordinary community puja of their area. There is nothing distinguished in it. Even all of the residents do not support this puja from their heart. They have grudge against this suddenly cropped up puja as they have to pay additionally for it. Only this year Aleek has been highly active to do something worthy to add to his name. Probably he wishes to prove that he is not at all unintelligent. And moreover he has already passed the Board exam. He is studying in the eleventh standard.

Now Aleek and five other youths have just returned from high road. They went to collect money from truck drivers in the national highway at 4 am. There is danger. Police sometimes chase them. Sometimes the drivers do not stop their vehicles as they take them to be robbers in the dark. Often they speed up to pass them to avoid giving money for Durga Puja. Five years ago a boy of a puja committee was crushed under a truck loaded with stone chips in this way. But people forget it soon. Binoy says, 'This year Aleek is doing his best for the puja. Next year we shall make him our secretary.' Aleek's eyes sparkle in glee listening to his praise. He simply grins. It is his signature grin revealing all his teeth. No one praises him. All poke him for his short of intelligence. In school his peers make him mad. Sometimes he gets angry. But his peers do not stop.

He feels proud when everyone looks at him with praise and importance. Only a month ago he was not getting any attention from others like this. An aged man comes to him, 'Aleek, my wife said you went to my house for collection. I was not at home then. I shall give you after three days when I shall get my payment from my head mason'. Aleek says, 'It's ok uncle. We can wait for two days. But please don't forget to contribute for this puja. It's your puja.' Aleek has learnt how to speak with people for collecting. He has learnt this art from his senior Abir and Palash. They speak so well that none can be angry. But everyone is not the same. Sumon is hot tempered. He spews hot magma at a very little resistance from others. But Aleek never learns those things. Rather he has attained the skill of speaking to people.

Aleek's parents work hard to maintain the family of four. He has a brother, 3 years younger than him. His mother runs a grocery from their home and his father works in a small factory. They have to be satisfied with little. Neither Aleek nor his brother has any grudge against their parents. They go on peacefully without making any noise.

People go to watch reputed pandals to the town or to some other places by train. Some pay a visit to their pandal. Aleek enjoys it sitting on a plastic chair. Among the organizers some youths drink as part of enjoyment of the puja festival. They invited him once or twice but he could not be persuaded. He said, 'No, I shall never. My father will beat me. You can have it but I will not.'

On the day of immersion he becomes a bit sorrowful. For fifteen days he has been laboring hard to organise this community puja. Now it is going to end. From tomorrow there will be nothing. Festival will end. This thought depressed him. After the sundown they get ready for the immersion of the Durga idol. Two or three cycle vans have been readied. The married women are coming to bid adieu to Debi Durga. They are pressing sandesh to the clay lips of Durga and her godly sons and daughters. The gym built Asura has not been given respite from the dabbling of sweets to his lips. Aleek is watching all these rituals. When the baran or farewell has ended, the boys and girls of their area start the procession. This procession is always noisy. Large loud speakers start to blare the latest Hindi songs of fast beat. Mike is throwing away Harry Om Harry, Bati nei Bati nei, etc. The young boys and girls dance to its tune. Many are dancing with high alcohol in their blood. Aleek has not taken alcohol. He is also dancing. They are going to immerse their idol to a large water-body nearby. They cannot go to the river for lack of fund. After a lot of dance in crossings they reach the waterboard. One after one they are bringing down the idols. They spin the Durga and other idols seven times according to the ritual. Then they take them to the deep water. About ten or twelve young men are swimming back to the bank after the immersion is complete. Now everybody is ready to return. But where is Aleek? They said that he also got down to the water. But none saw him return. Again they dived to the water to look for him but failed to get his trace. After a lot of search they could find him trapped under the Durga idol. He was fished out cold and dead. They have immersed the idol. They have immersed the son of a mother. The mother's heart rent in an inconsolable wail. The whole area has been engulfed under darkness.

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