The sunlight is different. More golden, less yellow. It touches you differently – more softly. When this happens, Mom says Pujo is approaching. That glorious time of the year when my Bengali neighbourhood looks lovelier than ever and the air is delicious with luchi, aloo dum and khichudi. I feel it in me today, even away in Pune. Durga Puja is not too far.
My Granddad never tires of telling me how I would roam from one pandal to another unceasingly, never getting tired. How could I? I was comfortable in his arms, higher up than the rest of the world. If I wanted, I could even tug at balloons or banners that said “Sarbojanin Puja Samity”.
On Dussehra morning, everyone would say Ma Durga was crying. Her eyes would indeed look teary, mirroring how all of us felt. Once, after the immersion of the idol, I pestered Granddad to take me to the pandals again. “There’s nothing there anymore.” He tried to tell me. I didn’t listen. It was when I saw Ma Durga missing from the mandap, the food vendors absent, and the brilliant lights replaced by a few flickering bulbs that it began. My crying.
But today is not the time to be sad. As I look ahead, I think about shopping trips with Mom, debating animatedly which colour saree we should wear on Ashtami Day. I think about curtains and bedsheets and cushions that will be changed. I think about the big buses parked in our locality, packed with guests to Chittaranjan Park – the mini Calcutta renowned for its wondrous Durga Puja celebrations. Finally, I think of R and me, fidgeting on our way to the airport, longing to take in long, deep whiffs of Durga Puja food and click tons of pictures.
Yes, sun, I know. You are more golden by the minute, sending me incessant signals of the times to come. I will get you new clothes from Karol Bagh and toast to you with a bowl of oranges. Durga Puja is coming, and Delhi, I am coming too.