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Just Saying

Just Saying

Sunday, 25 October 2015

THE BALLOON SELLER

It was the Navami night. The much awaited Pujo was coming to its end and every face that I saw leaving the pandal that night, had a sadness sowed into its skin. The city that was all erupting with the energy of its people, was unusually quiet that night. The lanes, somewhat sparse. Music reduced to a mellow. It was also this year that Ashtami and Navami was happening on the same day. A day less of celebration. A day early into the struggles of life. Unacceptable that it was, all we could do was to hold on tighter to the hopes of tomorrow in our crying hearts and to the eager longing of 'Aasche bachor abar habe'.

With the mesh of stars melting away in the early morning light and even before the tired hoppers would be fully awake in the beds, the priests would make way to various puja premises and amid the loud strumming of Dhaks, the final Bishorjon Pujo will be conducted. Vijaya Dashami, the customary good-bye to the Goddess. Dusshera wishes will be all over the web. For few days that will follow, the world will come remotely close. Relations will overcome distance, as everyone will reach out to other with feelings of love and oneness.

It was while I stood outside the pandal and watched the thin crowd disperse into the night's darkness, my eyes caught sight of a balloon seller in the shadows of the abandoned food stalls across the ground. Not an unusual thing within a puja premise, but considering the time, which was past 1 in the night, it was certainly curious, if not alarming.

I walked over to him as he stood bent over a twisted cane stick. Two balloons tied to it, floated just above his head, casting a colored shadow across his face.

‘Ato raate r khotai khodder paben, dada…’ (You won’t find a customer around at this hour, dada…)
I mentioned looking around the empty ground hoisting the puja.

‘Ami eikhane amar poribar er jonno royeshi, babu…’ (I am here for my family, sir.) He replied looking past me. ‘Amar boumaiya thakur dekhte khub bhalobase’ (My daughter loves visiting pandals.)

He paused to shift the stick to his other hand and then continued.

‘Babu, din-kal ja porese, tai ato rattir e oder k aka chari ni…oder k songe niyei phirbo…’ (Sir, these days the streets are not safe for women at nights. So I am staying back to return with them.)

I followed his shady gaze to see a woman leaving the ground. A baby asleep on her shoulder.

‘Kintu ora toh chole jacche?’ (But they are already living I think.) I exclaimed.

He laughed at that. The sound it roughly dissolving in the low music that played in the pandal.

‘Nah…nah. Ora amake nah niye jabe nah’ (No…No. They won’t leave without me.)

Soon I looked over my shoulder to find a lady in a faded blue saree and a small girl in a cheap, shinning frock walk into the ground through the wave of people. She ran ahead of her mother. Her short pony bouncing at the back of her neck.

‘Baba chalo…’ (Let’s go, father)
She said as her mother joined him and took the cane stick from his hand.

I stood there in the darkness in awe and watched the little girl lead his blind father into the dawn of Vijaya Dashami. I saw in the tired man’s walk, the reason why we celebrate this festival of Durga Pujo. And it was from behind his pair blind eyes and the immense goodness in the poor man’s heart, that I saw the world really win over its evils.


                                                           ***Happy Vijaya Dashami***


                                                             Author - Sobhan Pramanik

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