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Monday, October 14, 2013

Constraints and contradictions (the Bijoya rant)

We listened to the Mahalaya broadcast on the radio to herald Devipaksh, bought Pujo specials of our favourite periodicals, sang and danced in school on Mahapanchami before school let out for the biggest festival in Bengal. As I write this, it is Mahanavmi, and while you are reading this Devi Durga ceremoniously departs, making every Bengali a tad solemn, if not outright sad, for the next few days.
Meanwhile, my usual wave of depression before and during any festival has escalated into a worrisome to and fro between crushing sadness and utter numbness. Pujo comes once a year, and we are constrained by time to complete all the pandal-hopping, adda and eating while it lasts: and therefore, come what may, be there whatever issue that demands reserved and solemn attention, I force myself to forget it all and enjoy -- hence the depression. This year it is much, much worse because it is not just about mundane problems and home and school or even philosophical luxuries of thought like the social hypocrisy surrounding festivals or the commercialization of religion. This year, every fibre of my being reminds me from time to time of the grey, gloomy feeling that is loss; of the denial and desperation that precedes its acceptance; and the anger and indignation that resists any attempt by powers more rational to make a suitable replacement. Yes, we have a new Maths teacher at Aakash, who taught here last year and has been called back from where he was transferred. The first class with him involved a lot of unpleasant friction: whether that was because of the nature of the situation, I can't say. We are getting used to him, as we must and as youngsters like us very easily do, though I cringe every time he decides to criticize RJ Sir's methods: I hate talk like that (especially since RJ Sir was better!) even when it involves a simple change in faculty, let alone one where someone died. Died, dammit. For Heaven's sake, show some respect.
But in spite of everything, time passes, the moon takes its position as predicted, and like clockwork, Pujo is here. It is here too soon when I am not ready, but I must swallow the guilt that I feel when, amidst all the fun, some pinprick of a trigger lets the repressed memories into the forefront of my consciousness: something like a story of someone's death in the Pujo special, or running into an Aakash faculty member at a pandal. I can feel myself leading life at a very uncomfortable equilibrium between joy and gloom, which makes me feel incomplete as a whole. But that is no matter, for every human life is full of contradictions: each a unique interplay of light and shadows created on the screen when the rays of one's life-force are reflected, refracted, dispersed, scattered beyond recognition by the obstacles, the limitations, the constraints thrown in by the pesky little devil that is fate. So when Pujo comes, Pujo must be enjoyed. When a new teacher comes, he must be respected. When tests come, even if on Mahanavmi when you are unprepared, they must be answered. Screw the depression, screw the guilt, screw the unrealistically ideal dreams.
Between this Pujo and the next let us hope, and pray to Maa Durga if we are so inclined, that all the bad things that happened between last Pujo and this one are not repeated, (especially the pain and suffering!) and that we have the strength of will to accept the past, survive the present and face the future. As for all the good and happy things that happened: births, successes in exams, weddings, reunions with loved ones long lost; and love and forgiveness and compassion given and received -- for all these things I have just one thing to say: আসছে বছর আবার হবে ! Hope with me, friends, dream with me, that it'll all happen again in the year that comes... and that in some small way, we will make it happen.
আসছে বছর আবার হবে... হবেই হবে!

সকলকে জানাই শুভ বিজয়ার প্রীতি ও শুভেচ্ছা। বড়রা প্রনাম নেবেন। বন্ধু আর ছোটদের জন্যে রইল এই special message:

মায়ের অনেক কাজ, প'রে ডাকের সাজ 
কতদিন থাকবেন বল?
যেতেই হবে যে ফিরে! বিজয়ার sad সুরে 
সকলের চোখ ভরা জল।

পরের বছর ফের আনন্দ হবে ঢের 
মা যখন আসবেন ফিরে;
হবে mindless fun, সারারাত নাচ-গান 
দুর্গা -র family-কে ঘিরে।

শিউলির গন্ধেতে আবার উঠব মেতে
আবার উঠবে বেজে ঢাক।
ততদিন ভাল করে পড়া-খেলা দুই-ই করে
একটি বছর কেটে যাক!

এখন কথার শেষে, শারদীয়া হাসি হেসে 
বলি আমি টা-টা, goodbye!
সত্যের জয় যাতে জীবনের প্রতিপদে 
হয়, সে শুভেচ্ছা জানাই।

যতই থাকুক পড়া, ভুলিস না এই ছড়া --
লিখেছি খাটিয়ে কত মাথা
মিল রেখে শব্দের, তাল রেখে ছন্দের ;
কাব্য কি চাট্টিখানি কথা?


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