This story is my mother’s.
She is Bengali. Oh yes still she is crazy for rasgullas and aalu posto. Her enthusiasm during Durga Puja is something that lifts up my dad’s and my mood. Obviously we love to see her happy. Her running around the house while doing the chores with sweet little aalta feet and the payal’s sound is something I feel is the most delicate music in the entire world. The sound of sakha and pola against each other in the kitchen when she is grinding the spices is something that I can differentiate among all the noises in the kitchen. If someday her red bindi is not in place my dad never forgets to adjust it even if he is running late. We both love her a lot. Even my grandparents did. Well they are from Arunachal Pradesh. Sometimes I find her sitting idly on the roof of our house and stare at the blue sky and sunset. Today I found her kohl smudged while she came to make herself some coffee while she would watch the sunset. Crying, was she! However she has got everything a woman would ask for in life. A lucrative career, well she is a dermatologist and is quite popular among the masses of the city we live in; a handsome and caring husband who always takes care of her needs and leaves no chance to make her smile and ahem a daughter who loves her so much that she just wrote about her. Why would she cry alone?
Bhawani just came and told my mother about the guy I was dating. Did I break her trust? Is she crying because I did not tell her about my personal life? Well she expects that. Because during dinner three of us would crack jokes and discuss everything about our lives. I have a bad habit of concealing things however. I am a bad liar. Concealing is thus a better option to me than lying and getting caught. Is she hurt because I concealed an important thing like my relationship from her? She however knew I loved someone for whom I was avoiding Bhawani worse than ever. Bhawani is a person no one can consider loving because he has no respect for women. So I had been avoiding him ever since he developed his liking for me. But with the onset of feelings for another person you tend to avoid the unwanted people in your life worse than ever. She asked me only one thing when she came to know about my avoiding Bhawani worse than ever “Do you love anyone?” To which I simply nodded my head. “Do you feel the person’s intentions good?” to which I said with full confidence “Yes, and I also know that no boy would love me more than him”. She was satisfied with my answer and went on to her clinic. She did not ask about his details so I also did not cater to tell her the details. But Bhawani is a pathetic looser. So today he came to my mom and told her everything about my boyfriend.
This is the first time I saw her cry. I had no idea. Well she already knows that I love someone. What made her so sad? What about my boyfriend bothered my mom so much?
I went beside her. The cool ganges breeze swept by our hairs and my hairs brushed in hers. The sun was as red as her vermilion and bindi. The golden glow on her yellowish complexion because of the setting sun looked as if she was made to look beautiful during sunsets. A drop of tear from her left eye and the smudged kohl. I had no words to say. My heart broke. For a moment I thought of breaking up with my boyfriend if my mom is sad because of my relationship. The woman who gave birth to me, cared and nestled me with her love matters to me more than the boy whom I know for a few years. Well it was unlikely but what part of Bhawani’s description she did not like was unclear to me. The only lines that came to me were “Sorry mom, I don’t know what exactly Bhawani told you but if it is bothering you in any way I will break up with him. Your smile is more precious than the moments I spend with him.”
This is your first love as I know it. Shona, it is not that I have any problem with your choice or anything. But I am afraid if you end up like me (at this point I was startled). During my MBBS days in Delhi I also fell in love for the first time. It was magical just like this sunset. We used to talk a lot. Roam around the city like banjaras. Try different kinds of street food. He was my everything. I drowned in his eyes. The evening shows seen together are still the golden memories I have. He used to roam in front of my hostel just to get a sight of me. We wrote letters. The smell of the letters are still fresh in my memory. In our days marriage was talked about quite soon in a relationship. So he proposed to me. Now the problem was getting our families agree to it. Your nanu was tough on me but as Vinod was a brahmin and vegetarian so there remained no reason to resist(many bengali’s brahmins are vegans). It was now his turn to agree his parents on our marriage. I was sitting on a different table near them in the restaurant. It was his plan to introduce me to his parents once they agreed. He was so confident that they would be happy of his choice of beau. They were happy when he told “I love a girl and want to marry her” but the moment he told that my name is Madhu Chakraborty on his mother’s request, his mom exclaimed “Bengali!!” and went away from the restaurant. I had no idea. He was missing for a week. Your Sumita aunty lived near his house. I asked her and came to know that his mother for some strange reason thought I had done black magic on him. He was subject to the brooms of babas for all the black magic he had been subject to. This incident left me heartbroken. You know shona I still stare at the sunset every evening because it is the only thing which resembles the golden evenings spent together with Mr. Gupta.
At this point my heart also skipped a beat as I remembered how my boyfriend gossiped me that his mom would call him from Delhi to Kolkata(where he lives now) during Durga Puja and asks him not to eat any prasad offered by any Bengali.
Just because she is Bengali does not mean she will need black magic to get love. Bengali’s are free spirited and quite progressive but that does not mean they are hippies. There exists much stronger bond of culture and religious rules than anywhere else in India. I will not be heartbroken like my mother. I will be stronger than ever for whatever situation lies ahead because this is what my culture has taught me through Durga Puja and Kirtans. A woman is all powerful(Mother Goddess) and that love does not always expect matrimony(Radha and Krishna).
We have seen quite many Hollywood and Bollywood movies showing the importance of love without any barriers. Interracial in fact. How many of us think about caste, creed, color, caste, nationality or race before getting into a love at first sight situation! Has anyone ever thought about a pretty girl’s caste creed religion and sect before falling head over heels for her in the metro or at the coaching class? That time probably you only thought of her awesome smile or the cute eyes as something to start a conversation with. Day after day your attendance gets better just to see her in class. To make an impression on her you might be doing well at studies too. All that matters to you is to get her attention. It is a kind of black magic indeed.