There are days when I feel extremely bored and tired with this city that I have known since my birth. I want to get rid of that invisible umbilical chord which does not let me leave her and yet I cannot bear the sight of her any more – happens quite often nowadays.
But then there are days when she makes me fall in love, again…..and for a lifetime. Just like the unmatched euphoria of discovering the bling in the red from the first bloom of “Palash” across my balcony. I increasingly find it difficult to describe my relationship with Calcutta. She has almost taken the place of that unknown neighbourhood aunt whose turmeric soiled sari is often the most comforting factor in your life – that you have reached home at the fag end of the day and while the world around you might conspire to give you a tough time, you can sleep in peace for the night here.
Why I say this, is again a difficult story to explain. Last weekend was a super busy one for the city. The omniscient Bengali Panjika had wreaked havoc in the average Bengali’s life and the market prices soared with the thought of keeping the goddess of wisdom happy. The Bengali who always find a dilemma between keeping the two mother goddesses happy – Lakshmi and Saraswati and whom to prefer while making a career choice, was again trapped in that debate.
And then there was the Kolkata Literary Meet happening against the backdrop of the majestic Victoria Memorial. The Lit meet, in its essence- epitomised Calcutta. Unorganised yet extremely rejuvenating…sessions which only could happen here in this city which is known for its eccentricity.
So while me and my husband man rushed to attend a particular session at KaLam, 2015 while walking past the beautifully designed Mohor Kunjo (earlier known as Citizen’s Park), we caught a glimpse of the Bengali Valentines Day madness. And truth be told, I was super happy to see all those sweet 16’s clad in their first yellow (“Bansanti) coloured saris and their counterparts in the oddly worn dhoti.
Truth be told, I cannot imagine any other city in India which takes its Sari and tradition so seriously than Calcutta. And that tradition has absolutely no religious hardliner points. Saraswati pujo for us is a celebration of our thirst for knowledge and I hope it remains so….our endeavour for rationality, freedom and wisdom, something which the Devi actually stands for. While an increasing number of pandals play “Chipka le saiya Fevicol se” to celebrate the yellow madness, I still remain hopeful.
And I remain hopeful because I witnessed these overwhelming number of 16s or barely 18s, who have managed to keep the flag of holding hands with the tinge of blush of first love on their faces on the coveted Saraswati Pujo day, high, even though they now have so many designated ‘dating days’ nowadays.
The coyness of 70’s or 80’s – of my parents’ generations or the first love letter may be missing, but there is still hope for this city – because she gives me a reason to smile every now and then, smiles which are as materialistic as the first yellow Sari in the life of a 16 year old or the first ‘I love you’.Because she never grows old..actually!
P.S. All the photos are clicked by me and no unauthorised use is permitted.