“Aren’t you doing anything? It is Durga Puja!!!”
“What do you want me to do? Go out in this traffic? Wear a sari? What would, in your definition, constitute ‘doing something’ for Durga Puja?”
“Ever the cynic.”
No. Sorry. I am not cynical, I said to myself. Ok, maybe I am but really not about this, I promise.
Once upon a time, Durga Puja was about new clothes, being forced to wake up early for anjali on Ashtami. Waiting in line for bhog. Dance programmes, plays, performances. Teenage crushes. But that was once upon a time and that was long ago.
Now it is about terrible traffic, maddening crowds, office work and general irritation in a city far, far away from where I grew up.
Things have changed. That’s how the world works. But after that question answer session I sat down to think.
I, in my own way, can make sure that this festive season is special and fun for me. People still do it and going by their FB posts, they are pumped up and super excited. I could be right too? Where did I lose my festive mojo?
Somewhere between surgical strikes, Punjab and UP election campaigns and Dalit deaths I suppose.
(I like how I sound like what Narendra Modi should sound like and yet, lookathim! He never misses a festival!)
And then I thought some more. As much as I enjoyed those few brilliantly lit days, it was just that much harder for me to recreate that same zest to carry me through this year, or the year next, and the next.
It is an effort. And well, unless it is absolutely necessary for survival, we’d much rather do without it.
It is an effort because I will need to buy a whole lot of new clothes, it ain’t economical. It is an effort because I will have to take time out for work, I work for a news website and we don’t have holidays. It is an effort because I will have to walk a lot through bad traffic and crowds, it ain’t something I am looking forward to at all.
Efforts are not easy to take.
If I was in Kolkata, I would have done it I suppose. But really, would I?
The last time I was there I stayed at home all through. One time very grudgingly went with Mum to a puja pandal. Just one time.
And then it hit me. All these years I did what I did during Durga Puja only because of family.
Here in Delhi, there’s no family now. I have an infallible support system of friends who are almost-family. But come every festival, we all feel this little ball of loneliness bouncing around our hearts. In private, removed moments.
We wish that siblings would be around, we wish parents would be. We wish the dog was rolling all over your blacks so as you could shout at her not to.
And then you take a deep breath and check your office mail.
Happy Puja to families out there. We miss you.