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Mahalaya is an auspicious day for the Bengalis.

September 24, 2022

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Mahalaya is an auspicious day for the Bengalis.

Mahalaya is an auspicious day for the Bengalis.

This day the daughter of Bengal our beloved Ma Durga descends on earth. It is also the Pitru Pakhsa hour, which is the time to pray for our ancestors.

With Baba not there, this year, Pujo will be different. I have lost him forever, is something I need to sink into me. It still remains vague and an insurmountable pain in my heart.

I can’t quite comprehend the tumultuous emotions of this closure. It comes in waves and stays like an ebbing pain in the pit of my stomach, I feel homeless and unanchored in my being.

It was at night at 10.45 pm on 1st August’ 22 as I saw him struggle for breath and then he just stopped struggling. I kept touching him and he remained warm for awhile. I kept thinking it will be sorted. Till he was cold forever.

I remember feeling of not being helpless, as I knew, like always I would bring him back into my life. This time, I failed. I felt I failed myself and failed him, at such a deep level of surety that he had in me. He would say “my daughter is there”. Even in his delirium he called out for me.

I know, each of us have to become parentless some day, just that I wish it was later for me.

Every Mahalaya, we would wish each other. His obsession with my son was more than a delight. Ma and Baba ensured he ate something special this day. This was the best way they could show their love. I was angry many times for the sweets but now I wish I didn’t flinch even once, because it’s so dated and this love is so pure.

Earlier in the day, as a child, Ma would tune into the radio at 4.00 am to listen to Birendra Krishna Bhadra’s recitation of the “agomoni” : the arrival of Ma Durga.

It was under the warm blanket in the biting cold of Shillong, that Ma got the radio station set. Turning the knobs to ensure disturbance free listening. The three of us together, listened to the chants. As I grew older, I did the same for my son.

Today I want for just one last time again to revisit my past and live that life of security. But, I also know that it’s over. It can’t be felt again. It was those moments of being complete, as a child, that I seize in my broken heart.

Pujo is going to start in one week. This time it will be without my Baba. I can see him running around the book stalls to see if he could get his hand on the latest Bengali novel. If he didn’t find any book to his liking. He would scoff at the his own disappointment. All would be solved with the gurer sondesh, the luchi mangsho and more sweets.

Baba wasn’t the one who was social. He kept to himself, his books, his grandson, me and Ma.

Effortlessly good looking, with a bag full of knowledge and strong ethics, he spoke about his thoughts of being Bengali and his deep love for his state.

I feel half orphaned without him. He was always my last man standing.

I must learn to move on, but I don’t know how to.

I must remember that Ma is lost too. This is the first bereavement for us together, up close. I am an adult and I must learn to act like one. But it is devastating that I can’t any longer be the little girl that I was to him.

I saw his affection towards little girls and his eyes shine. I miss him and I know this pain will be my companion till I live, here on.

Wishing a happy Mahalaya to all the Durgas in my life. I know he is doing the same to me. This time it’s going to be Ma & I.

Love Mo

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