Durga Puja, Timarpur, 2017

In 2017, Dashmi, the last day of Durga Puja, was on 30 September. The mad frenzy of the festival finally ended on this day, saddling me with a bundle of mixed emotions, unlike previous years when the slow onset of sunset on the day of Dashmi seemed to be such a rude anticlimax.

I was happy and relieved because the end of puja meant freedom from the terrible stress of being ‘social.’ With so many old faces getting replaced every year with new ones, the task of befriending new people for its own sake isn’t very easy at my age. Last year, my handbag was stolen from inside the pandal. So, apart from the freedom from tight petticoats and blouses, new sarees with stiff borders biting into my neck, heavy jewellery weighing me down, it also meant freedom from the constant threat of petty thiefs trying to snatch belongings…

And here’s a little secret…On Dashmi, while we were all busy getting things ready for the final puja done by married ladies and the subsequent sindoor khela, an aquaintance said to me with an amused grin, “You have worn your blouse the other way round. Front part, pleats and all are on the back and rear part is on front.”

I blushed and immediately covered up the ready-made blouse with my pallu. But in spite of my acute embarassment, I thought that was funny indeed, as though my breasts decided to sit on the back seat of the classroom!

And I was sad because in spite of all the personal discomfort I underwent during those 5 days of the festival, it was a welcome relief from my fast-paced life. I ate properly and I got better sleep than what I get during working days.

Well, it’s all part of life, I guess. Different phases bring on different emotions…

This year, my daughter, now a 21-year-old grownup girl, managed to have her way and accompanied her Dad, my husband, to the Yamuna river to witness Durga Visarjan, the last part of the festival which many like me find too messy and painful and give a miss.

So this time, I didn’t have much luggage on me on my way home in the evening and I gave myself the luxury of a short, leisurely stroll on the tree-lined Lucknow Road in Timarpur on my way to the Metro station.

While I walked with slow, unhurried steps, my mind ambled along my long 25-year-old memory lane, to that midnight of 18 December 1992 when I had stepped into a Bengali household in Timarpur, dressed as a Punjabi bride…

Here are some photos I clicked during this walk. They are in keeping with the mood I was in at that time…nostalgic, sad, happy, and worried about the future…

Perched on the terrace gracefully like a ballerina…

Sunlight peeping through the trees…

This notice says, “Urination is prohibited here.” It’s meant for humans who behave like dogs.

And then when I reached home…

Approaching dusk…Clicked from terrace at home…in the backdrop of loud sound of crackers from the Ramlila maidan nearby, with Ravana getting burnt to ashes…

Joy Ma Durga! Jai Shri Ram!

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