This Mahalaya morning, like all other Mahalaya mornings, has arrived with a faint whiff of chill in the air. The clouds are cuddly tufts of cotton, idly swaying around on an azure sky. You log on to YouTube and listen to the prayer, the ode to Maa Durga: Mahishasurmardini. You probably let out a sigh. You are a non-resident Bong suddenly asking yourself existential questions. Questions like why you left the city and whether all of this toil is really worth it. Because here’s another Mahalaya that you’ll miss.
- Getting up and turning the radio on (or for that matter YouTube) can never ever replace actually waking up to Birendra Krishna Bhadra chanting Mahishashurmardini. Waking up to it is just different. And a whole lot better.
- Mahalaya was like a theatrical trailer of the film called Puja Vacations. Which in your current terms translates to auto approved leaves, requiring absolutely zero leave applications, zero con-calls, and zero emails. It was your time. And there was no homework. Now you are probably waiting for the Nobomi to be declared a holiday so that you get an extended weekend.
- Your class teacher (your boss back then) Mrs. Emmanuel, all strict and forever frowning, would let a couple of smiles slip past her lips. She acknowledged the fact that your days of toil are over. The mid-term exams are over. And Maa Durga is here. Unlike your non-bong boss who probably asks you “what’s Maholoyo?”.
- You are probably in office, having anda-bread for breakfast. And you know in your heart of hearts, what you should really have on a Mahalaya morning. This meal should involve white, crisp loochi, taut with steam on the inside. And it should involve you, nimbly puncturing the said loochi before wrapping it around some aloor dum and popping it in your mouth.
- Your mom was in charge of Puja shopping. And boy, was she just awesome. She knew exactly who’d love what. She knew exactly what’d fit who (the concept of trial rooms was redundant when she shopped). During these days before the Pujas, she’d be Schrodinger compliant, and mapping her activities would give you a probability cloud between Gariahat, New Market and Burrabazar. And all you had to do was wait for her to get back home, beaming, with massive packets in both hands. It was once a year. It was a ritual. It was different. Now, puja shopping involves you waiting for the drab faced delivery guy bringing you a package of clothes discounted of both price and surprise.
- You’d patiently wait for the pujabarshiki Anondomela to hit the newsstands. You had seen the cover illustrations on the pages of the newspaper. The image of Maa Durga on a speedboat, chasing Mahishashur, assisted by Tintin and Feluda were killing you with suspense. You couldn’t wait to devour those pages, to launch yourself in myriad adventures. Now, you have seen a similar image on facebook. And you’re probably signing a change.org petition defending Maa Durga’s right to visiting a beauty parlour.