To Vinayak, who still lives in my heart and always will.
This one week of my life is special and has taught me things that other wise wouldn't have been very possible and I owe it to everybody who has ever loved me, cared for me or has even said a simple "hello" to me, genuinely.
It was unnatural leaving home in the middle of my vacation, the late hours of sleeping and usual office work. But then here I was, on a Saturday afternoon, collecting my cheque, and leaving for home mid-day, because I had to pack. I was supposed to leave in an hour and a half to catch my train to my native from Vashi Station. I rushed home to find everything in a mess with mum getting ready faster than us, appa not home yet, still no clothes to pack, while my sister was on the phone. Finally, things started happening with appa coming home and taking charge. After getting aboard, when the train gathered speed after Panvel I knew I was going away. I had the feeling of "departure". Though the mentioning of the damned streets of Vashi is essential here. No street lights! NO STREET LIGHTS! It scared the shit out of me! Just the bloody lightening and car lights for sight! How can the highway roads with oh-so-huge trucks drive along with no lights?!
Anyhow, coming back to my story. Yes, "departure". I suddenly somehow consciously knew that this journey was going to be different. At first I thought, that it probably would be different and difficult because I was going there for the first time after Vinayak's death. I hadn't been there, I didn't see it happen. I'll never forgive myself for not being there, whatever be the reasons for my absence. When we reach Karwar, there was an ambassador waiting for us. Aatya had sent one for us. It was mid-morning but yet pleasant as it was drizzling. And believe me, the drizzling with the surrounding there looks beautiful. Something like how moneri would look when it would rain. Will provide with a photu.
Yes, taken from the ambassador. Surprisingly, ambassadors are pretty spacious. I could not help but think of him all the way. There was this one time when he'd taken me to the cliffs near the beach and somehow everything was all coming back to me. I knew of his presence, I knew he was there, all the time.
We reached home during lunch time. Yes, I call it home. coz, that place is my home, the only place I can call "home". Probably my attire wasn't right, or the situation. But there was hesitance from all around. Gaju wasn't there yet, so I rather was thinking whom to talk to... coz, frankly, I felt alienated.
And that's when it struck. He wasn't there. He didn't appear out of nowhere. He didn't greet me with his usual, "Hi, something". There was no him, just his picture, just the sad look I could see in aatyas eyes every time I looked at her.
Everybody else was there. We had a bath, we desperately had to. Konkan Railway seats aren't germ-free or dust-free and we were very tired, bath was essential. I changed into a salwar suit, pinned up the chunni (well, yea, I was conscious) and put on a bindi. Something that I hadn't done in almost two years. I made my way in the mandir that is in our housing premises and saw appa already doing the "Alankar".
I'll explain. They were readying the goddess for the puja. It took about 3 hours to complete that, yes, 3 hours. Its a tedious job with the heat and obviously there was no fan in the mandir. But he didn't complain, he did it religiously with maani mava by his side assisting him. I could see him happy. That felt good.
After that the awkwardness had passed, we all talked and laughed and I became the deputy worker of the mandir with kusumakka as chief! :) All the akka's except sulabhakka, and all the kids except vinu and gaju were there.
Believe me, I've never done so much of work in my life before. I've never positioned myself in front of complete strangers, cracking coconuts, giving out tirth, sweeping and doing everything that I could. Mum was amazed, Appa was pleased, Akka was confused. Coz well, you know, I don't even pick up my own cup in our house. And with so much of physical activity of washing utensils, removing water out of the well, was well, kinda astonishing for them. But I did all of it. And I feel good about it. My legs ached like crazy that night. But it didn't matter. Somebody had to help, somebody would have done it, me or somebody else.
We got to sleep and got up next day real early for me. It was 7 30. And apparently the mandir is crowded since 5 30. Yes 5 30, in the morning. I did all I could to help and I know I did!
The day passed with the usual work, the unusual food for me. I don't really eat so much of rice, but then I was full, I was happy. I was home.
I actually enjoyed going back to the mandir after our late dinners and sweeping the devasthan, as they call it (or rather "we" :) ) and sweeping with the tiny little jhadu. I had assistance later of Mr. Gajanan :)
I had never been there for Navratri. This was my first time. And it was beautiful. The everyday 9 15 aarti in the night made it feel so mesmerizing. The diyas,the aarti, the alankar. It actually hurt to remove the beautiful alankar everyday.
There are so many people who come, religiously, everyday. That devotion, that passion, I've never seen before. The system doesn't make much sense, but it does shows faith. Faith that I don't have. Surprisingly. I believe, but there's no faith.
I did all that I did, for them, for appa, for him.
It made sense to me then.
I made myself known as "kumarannas maglu", that means "kumar's daughter".
Everybody whom I didn't know came and gave me blessings, coconuts, blouse pieces, dakshina, kumkum. It's a different world. Here nobody would even bother, whoever you are , whatever you do. Gaju came the next day. I had someone to talk to, I had someone to relate to. I'm not saying this because you're going to read this, but because you did work hard. Sitting in the mandir for hours together, shirtless! Barely that he got to wear it again, he was asked to remove it.
Hilarious, that was. Now, I had a friend I could talk to and this made the stay even more comfortable.
And then the food. I've never had so much of food altogether! Sirsiamma definitely thinks that our tummies are big churning machines. I remember the afternoons when me and kusumakka got tired and went inside to have isabgol.
I always knew that I could connect to this place, call it my home. And now I can.
and I miss him, more than I could ever imagine. I'll always love him. They way we all did and always will.
This one week gave me all the love and care I could ask for. Everything that I always wanted from my family. I felt complete. It brought me closer to them and to myself.