Monday, October 17, 2016

After Every Durga Pujo A new Child Prodigy is Born

Image courtesy - SantaBanta

It’s that time of the yaar again when sweaty Bengalis converge under makeshift tents and try to clog their arteries with cholesterol from Moglai porotas, kobirajis, cutlets and bhaja bhuji fried in oil as old as the dinosaurs. Since it’s strictly for religious purposes, they expect Maa Durga to vanquish acidity, loose motion and clogged arteries just like that dark-skinned Mahisashura. As you daintily nibble off the meat from the kosha mangsho, you can feast your eyes on sombre looking men sashaying in panjabis embellished with smiling owls and boudis in stunning dhakais and blouses as deep as the Grand Canyon.

Durga Pujo is a Bangali’s own Woodstock. It’s a non-stop 4 day binge-fest where you sleep little, eat lots and hop from one pandal to another like a Duracell charged bunny. While evenings are a happy mishmash of hogging, ogling, lovingly pushing each other to get a closer look of the protima, soaking in calchaar as you tap your feet to latest hits by Miss Jojo and doing adda till the wee hours, mornings are serious business when you actually offer prayers to the Goddess. Also, this is when you get to observe the Bangali Maa (BAM) unleash the Durga(the warrior goddess) in her as she puts the chomchom of her eyes on the stage, where he can stun his paraa(neighbourhood) with his many talents.

We Bangalis are not content with being good at just one thing and this is firmly ingrained in us right from the time we are born. As a toddler if you loved tearing pages of the books from the shelves, you were promptly declared a Tagore in the making. Your baby gibberish was unlike anything your parents had before – it had a haunting lyrical quality to it. Your Thamma had the gut feeling that you’ll be as graceful as Ananda Shankar as she bounced you on her tummy while chanting dhei dhei nachhe nachhe. By the time you picked up the pen on your annaprashan, it was a forgone conclusion that you’ll be a world renowned scholar. Then they name you ‘Hablee’ ‘Godon’ ‘Natoo’ ‘Goga’ and you have no choice but develop a sense of humour to survive this cruel world.

How long can you hold back this child prodigy who can paint like Jamini Roy and lisps the most profound observations about life! So, he takes his first baby steps dressed as a clock for the fancy dress competition on shoshtee during Pujo. His Mom who spent days foraging for cardboard and turning into a grandfather clock is an anxious wreck as she watches her Hablee recite tic toc, aami clock that she composed especially for him. She’s always known he’s the best. It’s time the world accepted it as well. Just like her own Mom had known. She spent her growing up years proving her right, bent pensively on stage as Chandalika, reciting Nazrool’s poetry in a quivering voice and won the first prize for it.

Now here lies the catch. All BAMs are convinced that the chomchom of their eyes deserves to win a prize if not the first. After all she has been preparing him for months! By the time Hablee finally learns chronicles of Hatimatimtim by heart, the whole house including Cecelia, their hired help from Jharkhand can recite it in her sleep. If you dare deny his Mom the coveted prize, you risk having her do a surgical strike, her eyes flaming with unbridled fury, her back glistening with sweat from the exertion of having to push so many women to grab the second prize at musical chairs. The last time Rana Chatterjee, cultural secretary of Pujo committee tried to reason with her, he saw her explode like Samsung Galaxy Note 7 right before his eyes. He could sleep normally only after several visits to his therapist.

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