Well I am back. Two weeks of home was bliss.
The smell of the dhuno, the bhog, the smell of homecoming - I was so glad to be back in Calcutta.
We have a family puja which is some hundred years old (my father, heaven forbid, if you get him started on it will give you the history as vividly as possible and bring out the family tree chart as well). We rotate the Durga Puja among three houses, ours being one of them. But this time it was at an uncle's place.
I rediscovered many things at the puja. Amongst which foremost was a crush on a cousin. A distant one - may I point out! I still feel the same way and I was strongly tempted to talk to him about it. Thankfully this time I let my impulse take a back seat.
In the same house was my aunt's husband who is bedridden. He has cancer. From a healthy good looking man he has been reduced to what I cannot even call a shadow of his former self. His daughter has come down from the States to be with him. Apparently she has been crying all the time, so her husband sent her back. The aunt couldn't even smile properly when she met me. I felt like hugging her and telling her everything will be okay. But that was the one thing I just could not do, could I?
On the second day of sapthami I realised that I was only the youngster around. Otherwise it was only my parents, and my uncles and aunts. Would my generation ever take the pains to carry on this tradition? Seems highly unlikely. All my cousins are abroad and scattered in different parts of the country.
The relatives were highly flattering though. I was a major celebrity among them. "We read you every time and wonder how you know so much!" By the end of it my jaws were aching with smiling. Next they leapt on to what is their favourite territory. "Have you found a guy for yourself? What is it with you girls that you do not want to get engaged?" asked aunt A whose daughter N is the same age as me and studies in London. "I am telling you what I tell N. When you have a slim waistline, guys should fall in line. Is it that you don't want to commit?" she asked.
And she launched on to a story. She recently visited N and was very excited about her male friends. "It was a reunion. The first guy whom N hugged and kissed was this really good looking guy called Simon. I was excited. She introduced me to him and then his girlfriend. Some time later she hugged another guy, Paul, and told me he was a very close friend. He was not bad looking and I tried hard not to raise my hopes. She introduced me to his parents and siblings. I thought this is the one. Till another guy came along and she introduced him as Paul's partner." What was aunt A getting at? Get yourself a guy.
My parents did the best they could to remedy that in their own way. On consecutive days, there were two guys, AG and AGT, to see me along with their family.
With the two meetings coming to an end, I have realised that I don't want to get married in this way.
Being asked what I cook, why my Bengali has an accent (I don't. AG's father insisted I had. I didn't bother to argue after a point), why I want to get married (I replied very honestly to this. My parents want me to, I said. AG was of course not happy with it), what I had talked about with the guy can you believe this? AG's uncle asked me this. And I rattled it out.. what are my working hours, what am I looking for in a guy, why I want to marry blah
blah. Till the uncle looked at me and said you are a quite a child. I was pissed).
AGT was nice but I got brotherly vibes from him. My mum couldn't believe this. "You can adjust," she said.
I couldn't think of either as my partner. My folks were very disappointed. "Mamma, do you want to look for yourself? Is that it?" my father asked in a concerned manner. And then, "How do we say no to them now?" But there's always a way out. My father has figured it out by now.
Besides the boy and boy's family meeting girl sessions I endured, I did something I have been obsessing about. I had KFC. I overate till I felt sick.
And I went cycling. The weather towards the beginning was fabulous in Calcutta though a bit humid. But once I was on the cycle, I felt the world was at my feet. It felt so right.
All in all I was the perfect daughter (I did not fight for a single day). Except for the last day when I fought with them. We did make up before me leaving however.
Funnily I didn't feel much homesick after reaching Delhi. The weather is perfect.
It's not so bad to have two homes after all.