Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Welcome Home Maa

I woke up with a strange sense of happiness. Of belonging. A misty landscape of Gurgaon smiled at me serenely as I drew back the curtains. Walked around aimlessly, still feeling happy. Saw the laptop beckoning me enticingly. Refreshed FaceBook and saw my dear friend Kasturi's status on Mahalaya.

At once my heart jumped. Mahalaya.... I quickly youtubed the  Mahalaya "Yaa Devi...." Ma had switched on every morning at the break of dawn on All India Radio. Ma would be home today!!!!! Even as I said this aloud, I realised I may be sounding weird. Ma has moved on, passed away, and yet every Mahalaya day for the past three years I feel she is back again, descending from the clouds to be with her two daughters. Maybe it is my childish imagination. Maybe it is the remnants of what Ma herself would tell us as we listened in rapt attention to the slokas. That the spirits of the deceased descended down to earth on Mahalaya day and stayed with us till  Diwali. Ma would say that the spirits missed us so much that they would wait for this day to dawn.

Mahalaya has so much of significance. It heralds in the much awaited Durga Puja . It is on this day that the artists of Kumartuli in West Bengal paint the eyes of the Goddess- Chakshudanam.

Mahalaya is when people perform Tarpan on the ghats of the Ganges- an offering to the deceased.

Mahalaya is when Sewli flowers carpet the dew dotted grass and meadows. When children shake the sewli trees in glee and get showered with the coral petals. It is when shopping reaches a frenzied peak. When bonuses are doled out, songs played aloud in market places, the last  poles erected in the magnificent puja pandals.

Mahalaya is when the Goddess Durga starts her journey home with her  offspring.

But for me, Mahalaya will always be when my mother comes back home. To be with us for a while. So what if it is in my imagination.
After all, Mahalaya does mean "Homecoming".

There's something about shopping

Retail Therapy is what we call it. Monday blues, hop across to Phoenix Mills, Lower Parel, window shop, toy around with that awesome blingy handbag- what the heck- let me buy it- and voila, I am in a good mood again.

There's something about shopping that makes us happy. That makes us forget our woes and grumpiness. Instantly.

Remember the times I would tag along with my mother to New Market in Digboi and go hopping from Digboi Store to Rakshit's to the regular stop at the Society Store where Ma could buy on credit as well. She certainly seemed happy when she was out shopping.

Same with the Sunday morning ritualistic trip to Tingri haat for the  oranges, the cauliflowers, baby potatoes, fish and sometimes chicken in bamboo coops. We would be singing in the car as we drove to the haat and munching roasted peanuts on the way back. Daddy  took great pleasure in discussing his bargains with Hazarika uncle next door.

Almost all celebrations in our lives have shopping as an intrinsic part. Bihu, Durga Puja, Diwali, Onam, Christmas and so many more- we all go on a mad spree buying clothes, jewellery, gifts and come back with an empty wallet, depleted bank balance but a heart full of joy.

Sometimes I wonder- is it the  act of purchase itself that makes us happy? Or is it the feeling of bounty, of plentifulness? Or maybe it is about material acquisition? Acquiring things has always been the driving force of many things since history originated, where kingdoms were bartered, lives sacrificed... all for making our coffers overflow. It is this primievial urge to acquire that stills drives us to push ourselves at work, in life and even overflows into relationships. Most times we become slaves to this  drive.

There are so many things money can't buy. Love, relationships ( I am not too sure about this one), success, health, long term happiness. There is joy in giving as well. But I definitely don't recollect anything called Giving Therapy or Sharing Therapy to overcome our blues.

So shopping continues to be  one of the best forms of therapy and impulsive purchases  are fuelled by the choices that clamour for attention in the marketplace and the plastics in our wallet. This is what keeps the seesaw of demand  supply moving, this is what drives the GDP and all other economic measures.

This makes me feel less guilty, as I look at my bulging Anokhi shopping bag sitting coyly on the table. After all, I have contributed to the economy and yes, I am happy. Super happy.