Those who know me, know how precious Mahalaya is to me. It needs to be celebrated…it needs to be special. With Ma here with us Down Under, it was already special. We just had to figure out a way to celebrate it.
Not trusting a Monday to bring out the best in us, we dedicated the Sunday (yesterday) to the celebrations. After the little girl of the house had her share of fun at her first swimming lesson this term, we decided to “properly” inaugurate our new kitchen (yes, we moved into our new home a couple of weeks back). Nothing spells “special” more than “crab curry” made from scratch. Not for me, anyway. So the head chef “A” got straight to business, while I entertained the little girl with stories of crabs (trying my best to think of an ending where the creatures did not end up on a dinner plate).
If they made crab-curry scented candles or incense sticks, I would buy them (sounds gross….but that’s how divine the aroma was in the kitchen)! I couldn’t believe it was his first attempt at the dish! We licked our plates clean and sat at the dining table feeling content and happy. Our Mahalaya celebration was a huge success, as far as I am concerned.
However, it wasn’t complete until I heard Chandipath at dawn. So, last night, speakers were set up in the hallway, equidistant from our master bedroom and the guest bedroom, so that neither Ma nor I (“A” doesn’t care anyway) would miss any of it. And at dawn, the much-loved voice of Birendra Krishna Bhadra filled our home and our hearts. And my childhood memories of this day played in my mind….with images of Baba, the pink bougainvillea tree in our little front garden, the sandalwood incense sticks that Ma used to light every day, visits to my uncle’s place to meet our favourite cousins and nieces/nephews, and of course, a cupboard full of new clothes and shoes, carefully stacked in the order in which they would be worn during Pujo.
And when I turned to give the little girl a cuddle in her sleep, I saw a pair of eyes wide open in amazement. It wasn’t a usual morning, she had figured. But looked like she was trying to get her head around the sounds she could hear from the hallway. After a few minutes, she said to me “Dida crying”! And “A” and I burst out in laughter. To her, Chandipath sounded like Dida (grandma) was crying in the hallway. So we squeezed her in joy and assured her that Dida was fine.And so, from now on, Mahalaya will not just make me smile. It will make me laugh too.