Being a resident outside Bengal, it has been always a great occasion to come every year during the Puja’s with my mother and other brothers and sisters. Actually, with so many relatives and close friends and families in Bengal, I look forward to this visit every year. You know when the excitement starts for me ? Not during the pandal making nor during the puja shopping (as outside Bengal, I do not see that actually happening) – the actual build-up inside me starts when the Mahalaya comes up. I know many of you are so fond of getting up at 4.00 am, putting on the radio to hear Biren Bhadra starting to stay “Namastashyay, Namastashyay, Namah Namah hah …..”, multiplexing between sleep and the songs – what a wonderful feeling – isn’t it ? In older days, I did not hear that but once this came up and are broadcasted throughout the world (via internet, FM radio, etc), I have actually fallen love with that …. Now, please don’t make that public – as my sisters will pull my leg – you know why ? In our world, we are not supposed to be so much emotional with earthly things – but who cares ! I do love all good things – irrespective whether my society classifies them as “earthly” or “non-earthly” ….
The time to come home is also excellent – the harvesting of rice and food is over, the skies clear up after all the great rain, the grounds flutter with “Kaash” flowers and I can literally “smell” the great festivity :-) Actually, when I come from the North towards Bengal, I feel that the entire earth is dressed up in white (kaash flowers), great blue skies on the top and the entire Bengal actually welcoming be to come to my home and meet my relatives … what a great feeling ! Even the eagles seem to be more gracious during their flights over the land – ha ha ha .. just kidding – they are always gracious, isn’t it ? But nowadays, I am getting a little concerned with the change of weather patterns – you can actually feel that every year. This year there was less rain in Bengal, quite hot and humid compared to last years – am I right ? Well, what are you guys doing then ? Earlier we used to joke that anything that goes wrong, blame it on global warming. But now I think we are actually feeling the change – so I urge you all to be conscious and do something. If you need any help from me, just call me out – I will be the first volunteer. But you need to start acting first – isn’t it ?
Offfffffffff .. sometimes I get carried away giving so many lectures :-) Do forgive me for that. So just after the Mahalaya’s, we all get excited to come home – believe me, my Mother also becomes so excited even after so many years. And don’t ask about my sister’s – they start looking for what’s the latest trends in Bengal and how they can plan to enjoy that while we are in Bengal. Again, in our society, we are not supposed to express our feelings – so, you will not see any expressions whenever we come home every year. Even if you send sting operations, you will not see that in our faces – we are so much trained up … ha ha ha ha
Finally we arrive at Bengal and what a welcome we see from every friend, every relative of ours … this is really amazing – all of them decks up in their best clothes, the entire localities gets lit up with lighting and the pandals – how to describe ? Sometimes, even I get fooled to think that this must be an actual Rajasthan Fort or the great Konark temple :-) Fantastic work done by the people – only at occasions I feel that the real architects, the real workers – do they actually get justified compensation for their great thinking, hard labour and work ? I have heard complaints from some of them – would really request the organisers to look after them. After all, they are very often exploited and when the entire state celebrates on the basis of those people’s hard work, I sometimes feel sad. But I am sure my friends and relatives will definitely look after them – I am really optimistic on them.
The next thing that strikes me is what you call as “the next generation”. Every year, I come to Bengal and I see a more confident, a more bold, more aggressive (in the right way), more technologically savvy, more educated Next Generation. This really makes me feel proud. Years ago, whenever I used to come, I thought that most of you seems to be unsure when it comes to face the entire country, forget the world. But, now I see a confident India ready to face the world – pursue the right things quite strongly and if need comes, quite firmly as well. However, I still don’t understand one thing from the “NextGen” – their language through the internet chats, SMS’es, etc …. ha ha ha … have to do lot of learnings, I must say :-) What I have noticed from some of the older generations is that they feel that the older era was much better than the current one and the future will be much worse. If you ask me a frank opinion – I do not agree at all … One thing that I have learnt very early is that there is one thing that is constant in life – that is Change ! So the earlier we accept that, the easier it will be to see the good things of the present. All generations had their own share of positives and negatives – hence, no one can say “mine was the best of the best”. Tastes, cultures, behaviour, confidence, values – all will change with generations after generations. But I am very optimistic that if you draw up the balance sheet of overall values, happiness and progress each time a new generation comes, you will see net progress happening. I am always for the younger generation at all times …. I know all of you say that I am always “evergreen” and always symbolise the “youth” – well, I take that as a compliment only – after all, who doesn’t like the attention from younger generation ? Ha ha ha ha ha
The love that I see for me and my family during my homecoming is simply amazing. It becomes difficult to visit all family members and friends – but I definitely try to meet them during these days. And when I do visit them, I see only love and emotions. Fantastic feeling for everybody. I see so many people praying for their well-being, for their relatives well-being – that speaks of humanity and fellow-feeling. I know there are some sporadic incidents of hatred happening now-a-days, but as we always say good will prevail over the bad, I am sure we will progress as a community, as a country, as humans. My Mother gets so excited once she comes here that she actually puts on different dresses, even different looks while she visits all the pandals. This year, I have even seen her dressed up in a saree which resembles the colours of Kolkata Knight Riders …. ha ha ha … But whenever I seen my Mother looking at the traditional pratima’s like at Maddox Square, Baghbazar and so on, she actually becomes nostalgic for a moment :-)
Finally, as all good things comes to an end, the time comes for us to return back. I know we don’t show much emotions – but believe me, inside all of us, we feel so sad to leave all the relatives and friends. However, the good thing is that we need to just wait for another 365 days … sometimes I feel that it is so good to have this every year and not like the world cups, which happens once in 4 years :-) :-) Whenever we go back, I always think of the great learnings that I have gathered from the “NextGen”, appreciate the artistry in display throughout Bengal, think of the taste of the great Bhog, listen to the great music and read the literature burst happening this time of the year and overall – the great love of the people of Bengal. No doubt, my Mother, brother and sisters feel sad – but as life needs to go on, we need to take that in our stride and move on – isn’t it ? Only thing that we keep behind is happiness for all with the wish that next year when we will come again, we will see more happiness, prosperity and growth for all people, across all levels of the society.
Thank you all for your love and affection. Thank you for giving the opportunity to talk to you from my heart … Take care, keep smiling, work hard and be a great person. Bye
By Karthik Thakur as told to Ayan Majumdar
Interview date : Aug month, every year