I did not venture out this time in Patna. One month i was absolutely at home barring one day when i caught up with some buddies at PMCH while on my way return from a school teacher's house. This was strange for i am not really the domestic type. Stranger still for i enjoyed every moment. It was quiet, serene and beautiful.
Some interesting and soul searching moments graced my stay. The primary one being the visit to my school teacher. I would like to maintain anonymity of his name and the particulars. But the sight of a fast-ageing man in his late sixties, trying to salvage his ever cheerful spirit by very creative and very beautiful attempts at stamp collection, painting, various kinds of craft was very very refreshing. The pain and problems of old age, lonely couples and the need to see their sons and daughters through a promising career despite themselves was heart wrenching. Just wondered, if life actually becomes so complicated, so busy to allow time to rule you than otherwise. Should it?
I was invited by my alma mater to teach English to class eleventh and twelfth students for a couple of days. It was to put it in one word, exhilarating. I was proud at the honour, really excited at the prospect and most strangely very very expectant. I can't believe i actually jittered for a moment as i did the first day of my first major inter school debate. It was strangely smiling a moment considering it was definitely not the first time i was taking a class. In fact, the strength of classes at Army School are much smaller as a matter of AWES policy. It was nostalgic. To see some very old students in the school giggle and stealthily say, "Arey ye toh assembly conduct karwane wali didi hain" and some new ones to stare and remark, " Bahut strict ma'am hain yar", some naughty and lively attempts to pass witty, situational comments, the frantic scampering off the corridors when teachers (and yes me too!) walked on the same was so nostalgic. Coincidentally, i taught in the same class i had once studied in. Memories flooded, i got misty eyed once but well camouflaged all with a stern attempt to write something on the board.
Maa and papa left me with my youngest brother in Patna for the village for almost half of the time i stayed there. It was fun yet inspiring. To see them pack up and leave explaining how difficult it is for baba and dadi to live alone and that when situations favour them with their son's and bahu's company, they would grab every opportunity, was a little puzzling at first. Afterall, maa and paa were the ones who called me home. But later in my solitude, in the peace of the entire house, i realised how they have taught me the various lessons of life at various stages through these silent, subtle, muted gestures. I feel proud and really lucky at being brought up under them. I missed them but well to live with the disaster kid and manage all his culinary whims and fancies at home was a daunting task in itself. I enjoyed my stay and my productive time with books.
One of my cousins is getting married may be earlier next year. She is a year elder to me. I had not been able to talk to her for some undefined reason after hearing the news. Worse still, i had acted abnormally awkward at moments she tried reaching out to me and trying to talk about the same. I still can't fathom why i behaved so. But well, i did. May be got more scared about thinking about the whole thing than her. May be i could not imagine her in her post-marital roles and saw the glaring disconnect with what we had been all these years and what will become of her after the official declaration of being tied up. I mustered courage and talked. It was lovely to hear her out and cathartic to help me loosen up the stupid reflex in me. We reminisced about one rainy day in Ranchi when all of us siblings drenched ourselves to the skin on our way back from an adventure trip in Ranchi to some undefined forested outskirts of the city while elders back home were scared to their guts at the prospect of around six-seven of us missing. Well, i confess the plan was mine but for my seemingly innocent face was saved while our elder cousin bro got a severe thrashing of his life. We laughed our hearts out. And thankfully, reconnected as we always were.
I observed the Navratra puja this time. So unlike me, for i am not strictly religious in my faith. And surprisingly loved the ritualistic routine of getting up early in the morning, reading the texts and shlokas and all such attachments. Well, i could not fast for the obvious foodie in me gave up the first day itself. But i atoned for my departure from the dictates by observing a nirjala fast on Durgaashtmi. I would never forget maa's expressions at looking at my photographs on Navami. I had observed Kanjak puja and invited two girl kids to savour seven prasad items i prepared early morning. Maa is still aghast at my transformed religious fervour. And so i am. I still can not relate to this me who is suddenly drawn into institutional religion without a prior rational thought process. I seem to be just doing things i like at the moment rather than my earlier habit of proper dissection of whys, hows, whats. Crazy!
Diwali was fun. Funnier was my maa's insistence to make me sit for "Naak pujna hai tumhara" much before the Lakshmi Puja. As a child, i cried my heart out at not been worshipped on this day. I whined and got everyone irritated until they gave in to worship me for as i argued then that one keeps hearing the entire year round that "Ladkiyan lakshmi hoti hain." Precisely for that reason, on the day of Lakshmi Pujan, why can't girls be worshiped than only some symbolic photograph or idol. I thought that my stupidity and childishness was forgotten long time back but for the actual pujan on that day. It was funny and crazy to see maa and papa touch my feet but somewhere they earned a new respect albeit our differences in opinions on mutually controversial issues and positions. I learnt the new meaning of committing to what one believes in rather than following customs and rituals and religion blindly. I learnt how labels like conservative and liberal, traditional and modern are not strictly and mutually exclusive.
I know that this seems like a stream of consciousness blabber in a blog. But may be the seasonal fever and bad cold is getting on to me. May be i am missing home so bad that i could no longer concentrate any longer on this month Yojana's discussion on Non Governmental organisations. My be this post will ease out my emotional slur.
In the hope of learning more about different facets of life, newer dimensions of people i seem to have known for so long, in the hope also that the nasty cold gets better, i sign off for now.
And indeed apologies for the delay in the story i claimed to have written. I seem to have lost that craving to pen something down back home. May be with time, the urge will grow again. The texts are promptly saved, the peripheral lines etched in my mind, waiting for that impulse to take over. Thank you all for being patient and liberal with reviews here, on my mail, texts and facebook.