For months, I would be excited about ‘the-night-before’.
And for one night, the big four poster bed I slept in, would smell of Topa-Kul and jaggery instead of Pond’s talcum powder and Ma.
The blanket that I snuggled under, would become this separate island, a parallel universe, from where I defied the norms of logic and peeped out through a cranny. And observed.
Observed liquid gur along with khoi and coconut disappear into big kadais over kerosene stoves, and come out as scrumptious mowas and nadus…which would, then, be left on newspapers to cool.
Observed sugary kadma and batasa and nokuldana unearthed from paper packets and spread out on brass plates as offerings.
Observed sandalwood-paste being made, and flowers being garlanded and fruits being sliced into neat, clean cubes.
Observed rice paste and water serving as the raw materials for some of the most astonishing art works – alponas, ever seen.
And then, suddenly, it would be time to wake up and take the ritual holud snaan before the Puja.
The Puja would be nice, no doubt. The early morning chill would give me goose-bumps and I would feel all grown-up and important when asked to fetch a plate from the next room.
Many Pujas have passed since then. I have transformed from an observer to an active worker. Dida has lost even more teeth. And now-a-days, mowas and nadus come from plastic packets. The Pujo, though, is intrinsically, still the same.
It is only the night-before that has lost it’s sheen.
The essence of that half-asleep, shadowy world where didas would seem immortal and Narkoli Kuls would be even more tempting than the forbidden fruit, is simply there no more.
I miss it sorely.