By Sraboni Basu
It’s that time of the year—Dandiya Raas… Durga Puja…love and music are in the air. Love Matters brings you a sweet love story that bloomed at a Durga Puja in Kolkata. Who knows you may find yours at a pandaal tonight?
Konkona, 28, is an HR executive in Kolkata. She shares her love story with us.
It was that time of the year. One week to go for Durga Puja, my city of joy, Kolkata, was decked up in all her glory to welcome Ma Durga home. It’s a time when all Bengalis are happy, irrespective of their social status or the phase of life they are in. There are just pure joy and delight and happiness and love all around!
Joydeep and his family had recently moved into our lane. His dad was a Maharashtrian and mom a Bengali. They had relocated from Mumbai. He soon became friends with the other boys in the neighbourhood. They sometimes played cricket in the evenings in the nearby park.
I was in my final year of MBA. My brother Soham, then pursuing medicine, used to join them whenever he was free. I heard him mention that Joydeep was in his final year of Engineering and apparently quite the star in his college. It occurred to me that he was probably a year junior to me.
Almost every main street or area in Kolkata has its own Durga Puja celebrations. Our neighbourhood Puja was quite an old, reputed and grand one. Traditionally every evening there were cultural programmes organised in the Puja premises where everyone, young and old, participated. Each community Puja turned into one big happy family during those four days.
I was participating in a dance and a play. Daily rehearsals were part of the fun. As luck would have it, the guy who was cast opposite me, in the play, came down with chicken-pox. We were the central characters, and it was almost decided that the play would have to be cancelled as no replacement could be found at such short notice. Then someone suggested Joydeep’s name. He seemed quite enthusiastic.
We soon realised he was quite a seasoned actor, having participated in many school and college plays. We were to play a ‘totally in love’ newly married couple. The funny thing was that while I felt very awkward playing the part, I felt quite at ease with him otherwise. Was it the beginning of our love story?
The next few days breezed past—preparations, rehearsals, planning. Joydeep and I even went shopping for props together. He spoke Bengali with an accent, and I loved it. I thought he looked extremely cute and attractive in the Bengali dhoti kurta. We realised we shared a common love for music and books and had very similar tastes. Joydeep was friendly, easy-going and confident. I was smitten.
The day of the play, when I entered the stage dressed up like a new bride, he smiled at me. I thought he had a little twinkle in his eyes or maybe I imagined it. The play was a hit! People said we looked great together.
Right through the Durga Pujas, we spent almost all day together, with others around, of course, eating bhog (lunch) together, doing endless chores, pandal hopping all night. All of us youngsters used to pile up in two cars and visit the other Puja pandals. Kolkata sparkles and shines all night during Durga Puja… the crowds, the laughter, the food, the lights, the music… it’s like a magic spell that envelopes everyone.
Joydeep and I had our fleeting moments in the midst of it all. He would hold my hand or put his arm around me in the overcrowded pandals. I would wait so we could have lunch together. I took a little extra care that year to look gorgeous every day. Joydeep was right there in the front row to watch my Odissi performance. And this time, I knew I did not imagine the twinkle in his eyes—those eyes that said it all without uttering a word.
Durga Pujas came to an end, but something had changed between us. We had a love story. Everyone in the neighbourhood thought we were a couple… only we were not sure. And we remained not sure for the next four years until I, Ms Konkana Bhattacharya became Mrs Konkana Shinde.
To protect the identity, the person in the picture is a model and names have been changed.