American teenage rom-com movies end with the chase to prom night. The night which appears to be all about dancing and glitters, all the girls are in beautiful gowns and boys in tuxedos. They take limos to enjoy the time of their lives. Alas nothing of this sort happens in India other than in Kjo’s movies. Colleges in our state are hell bent to turn into a puritan allegory, so from this context prom night is a far away dream in Indian reality.
Still we have our share of romantic day where we can all be beautiful and pumped to the heights. It’s not a prom night but a day to worship the goddess of wisdom. Basant Panchami is celebrated throughout the country, somewhere in more glory and others in delight. On this day my state and other states of East India celebrate Saraswati Puja. Luckily this day is not exclusive to senior year students of high-school, but an event celebrated by all. From a tyke to old lady celebrate the grace of goddess. This day is also known as the Indian Valentines or to be exact Bengali’s Valentine.
We have grown up to look forward to this day; one wakes up and bathes then puts her books at the feet of goddess. We place inkpots filled with curd and pen made out of Khaag and Kul (Ber in Hindi) aka Indian Plum on it. Every home celebrates and worships, young girls and boys run around the town to collect chanda (donation) to hold their own little pujas at the turn of lanes, or under garage, under trees any place that looks clean. So this puja too was celebrated in our home like any other household. Only difference with other households is that our Mother-daughter duo deliberately chooses small idols as they looked cute on the altar.
So on 4th feb of this year we again celebrated puja and asked goddess for her blessings. I hope she listens to us this time, as I am the last sapling in the family who is still in the bed of education. Our Brahmin came and did all the rituals and our puja was accompanied by my neighbour cum classmate and her friend and our cook’s two sons. Those brats actually brought their huge schoolbags. The huge numbers of books almost hid our little goddess. Finally puja came to end after the Arati and we got the Charnamrita (something like holy water only taster) to end the fast with. My mother laid plates of prashad but my eyes were glued to the orange ball of wet sugary laddu. Everybody left and my real romantic journey started for the day.
Since on this day most of the girls opt to be traditionally draped in Saree, I had escaped the torture of saree for last two years of college. First year, I did not step out of home, second year I went berserk with my own weird look like a Gypsy. So this year I had no escape but to show my face in saree. On this day couples find it very romantic to roam around on their bikes, everywhere one looks one can see colourful pairs or group of lovers. Here I was the eternal single who had no boyfriend or girlfriend to call as her lover by my side. I had wanted to avoid this day, it at times appears to me as a competition to look best and if you had a lover, you were the unofficial king and queen. Since it was open to all, you actually find yourself staring at twelve year old girl freshly developing chest in Mekhella or a really curvy woman of twenty seven in Dokhna. You are being stared and you stare. It is a exhibition of looks over worship. Since my Pink College is so caring, we hold our own puja, so all the girls and boys come in their best dresses to worship the white goddess sitting on swan.
So past month I had nagged my parents to consent into my plans, I had a reputation to keep as Ice Princess of College. Few days back I bagged the Best Orator and I had been the host to college annual festival for consecutive three years. I had my juniors looking upto me, so in short I was irritated and wanted to avoid the day. But certain someone who was born before me called up and forced me to drag my body out of the warm bed. Being a tomboy has its own positive effect, it didn’t matter if I had the feminine grace or not. So with brave heart I was draped in my sister’s saree with help of a neighbour’s sister and my mom. This was my last year in college, so I had to look good without realising I was entering the open battle of dresses. To my amazement I looked pretty good for an ugly duckling with piggy nose. There was this old man my father who kept forgetting I was a twenty year old adult and kept entering my room while I pampered myself in last hopes of backing my plan down. So here I was in a beautiful saree, beautiful junk jewellery, a hairstyle copied from magazine showing off my new beauty to my father. The only question my old man was worried about was shoes. When he saw my block heel shoes, his eyes grew large in fear.
This event is also a wonderful day to make new friends and actually find out who adores you. The most hurtful part of our Indian Valentines was the hurtful look one gets from couples who find it really sad that you have no lover and enter the grand gate alone. So how can eternal lover like me who falls in love with every other person enter the huge gate alone? There was no question of going in a rickskhaw, my walking mate had abandoned me for her lover. The weather was too cold compared to other days, Assam really has weird climate, so despite shivering in cold girls chose not to wear sweater. Looks matter, so I too decided against sweater and my old man was telling health comes before brainless style. Well it would be a blunt lie, if I had not planned my grand entrance in advance, the question few of my friends kept asking me with whom was I going. I had my own sources, I was not going to hire paid boyfriend or girlfriend, nor was I creating a cyborg or conjuring succubus.
Finally I was ready to enter the battle of dresses, in my saree and heel shoe I took small feet towards our garage to take my car out. My father was repeating that it was dangerous on the turn and my shoes were too bad for driving. He finally calmed down when I showed him that I was carrying flat shoes with me to drive. My mother from balcony kept praying for safety, I am a very safe driver not at all rash like my elder sister. So there was no question of my car running at fourth gear. The path to my college from home was five minutes. My suspense novelist of a grandmother was not informed about my bold gesture to drive this brand new car in saree. My zealous sister was cheering me from her home far away from here. So without any delay I rushed out my car, in case my old man had change of mind.
|the trees under which we sat|
|see what I meant?|
|Oh yes Media was there too, I was on television for three seconds.|
On road, my car like a good tamed horse took graceful turns and overtook herd of white goats that were morphed within the thick fog. I left home at twelve, yet sun god was hiding it was as chilly as early morning. After having a concert of blowing horns I finally entered the college gates. The guys with bike craned their necks to find out who was this daddy’s pampered boy. The look on their face was priceless when they found me inside. There few of my classmates at the entrance, I overtook my professor’s car and parked it perfectly. But before stepping out I changed back to my block heels so that my short height could be enhanced by few inches. Alas I forget I couldn’t walk in heels, so very awkwardly I entered the main gate with a huge smile and gathered the sceptical and surprising looks on their faces. There are moments one wants to reply in life again and again, this particular moment I would have replayed it till end of time.
I was greeted with my major mates and friends. The most common reaction I got was “Aaj bilkul Ladki lag rahi hai tu” (Today you look like an actual girl). But who knew this dialogue was going to haunt me all day. My professor said I was the reason Sun god didnot come out that day. I got complimented on loosing weight and having a wonderful smile by crush and her boyfriend got jealous at my blushing face. I was enquired if I came alone which was obvious, people got surprised that I drove car wearing saree. What amazed me most was its still a big deal if girls drive car. So I went and prayed to the white Goddess and roamed around with groups of friends. I am a bohemian soul; I cannot stick to one group for long. So I kept partner hopping and kicking guys in shin for passing terrible jokes at my expense. We ate Khichidi the divine food of any puja, which according to my surprise was not as terrible as last years. At least I settled for the role of cameraman, I took pictures of everyone and kept changing partners and chasing people for photos. Funny thing about having camera is that, one is never alone; I had various subjects to click. One certain couple whose photograph I had taken and uploaded on Facebook are now pissed off with me. Over all, I was not bothered with the question of having a partner or not. But with my looks I would actually give myself a place in top ten best dressed in college. I am not a narcissist but a very observant person.
But like Cinderella had to rush back home before twelve, my fairy mother kept texting me to come back home by four. As the bypass road got busier with monstrous trucks and buses and this first time I had the car all to myself . I could clearly picture my old man in his monkey cap under the blanket irritating my mother about my coming back. So I had to excuse myself from my friends that I had to go home early. The day when I was at peak of my popularity, I was again forced back by my twisted fate to retrieve my wax wings.
Again I dragged out my car and went the same way where now the fog had disappeared but sunlight was scare. The goats had found a warm place and I had created a traffic jam behind me. Due to my Old man’s continuous driving tips and the inherited fear of my satirical family, I drove pretty slow, and did not allow any car to overtake me. Though few bike did cross me with their sexy lovers clinging to them in cold. As I parked my care near our home, I saw my mother standing in balcony and smiling and talking to our neighbour who was telling me how worried I was. As if I did not know what my weird family was made off. I left the trouble of entering car in the garage to my father and entered the house in victory gaining no crown or lover yet forever happy.
P.S- Driving in Saree is really tough, and this tale of driving will come in Drive a Vu series later.
thanking you to bear with me