It’s a festive time now. Navaraathri (nine nights) or Dusshera or Durga Pooja, is one of the most celebrated festivals in India. There are a lot of myths and stories associated with the Navaraathri celebrations. It varies from one place to the other. All these stories are from the hindu culture, and it is very difficult to authenticate any of these as the true navaraathri myth.

After coming into IIT, my life has changed a lot. Navaraathri has been looked into as holiday, where I can sit back and relax a bit. This relaxation is offered by my weird collection of songs like Dylan, Floyd etc, which I feel, doesn’t relax me at all. I have been silently observing the Tams, Gults and Digs going to their samajam, for some special pooja as a part of Dusshera. Today Vimal told me about Navaraathri. This word, which I had conveniently forgotten for the past 4 years, rushed back some memories into my mind. I ran back to my room, to enjoy the nostalgia in solitude.

I am going back by 10 years now. I am a young boy, in my 5th standard, staying in an Agrahaara. Talking about my agrahaara memories, those are the most colorful memories so far in my life. I have reserved a very special place deep in my heart for those memories. There were a lot of friends for me all day. We had a very big group, who used to go to places together. The houses in agrahaara, though are very small and congested, offered me much better life than all other places I have been so far. We shared the wall with the adjacent houses. The houses unlike our present day apartments, where people wait for the guests to go out so as to close the doors, are always open. Anyone can go into any house; there is absolutely no need to ask permission to enter the house. Usually children will be running around from house to house. I remember getting into house through the back door and coming out through the front in lot of houses. Moreover, we will be given food at most of the houses we go through while we are playing. There is a big bondage between the families which made the life very memorable.

For festivals, the whole community will get together at the Brahmana Samooha Madom (BSM, this is my own abbreviation.. they never made one). On the first day of navaraathri, all the different families in the community will bring kolus (idols) to BSM, where they all will be arranged in rows. After this, there will be pooja for these idols, and mahishasura mardini sthothram by the ladies of the community. I can still recollect the peculiar tune in which they used to sing this sthothram.

During all these times, we will be playing some hide and seek or thottukali (someone translate daa) at BSM. These games will go on till the ladies are done with their prayers. We will be running around the whole place. By the time we get back to our houses, we will be tired, just having the energy to have dinner and go back to sleep.

Then during Durgashtami, me and my friends will be going to the temple with the book packets. My friends will come and call me at home, my mom will give my packet and some dakshina. Thus start our journey to temple. After this, starts our real celebration. Now that we cannot read anything, our parents won’t force us to read the class notes. So we will be playing day in day out. (Those days watching TV used to be the last choice). The playground used to be the BSM where we all will be running around. After the two days which will go like a lash of lightning, comes VijayaDashami. We will take the books back, and will start reading a page from the books and do the harishree for the coming year. This is done at our own houses. Our parents will be forcing us to read the books as they know that we have not read a single page for the past 9 days. This is very interesting. I will be making quick glances to the entrance (The rooms are on a line. So we can see the front door from anywhere in the house), to see any of the friends have peeped in. The moment I spot a friend coming running to save me, I will start pleading to my mom to let me free. Then back we are to celebrate the last day of our holidays.

That night, all of us will be very sad, as we have to part and go back, as we have loads of homework to do and submit the next day. Thus the celebration ends in a sad note.

Those times have gone. My dad got a transfer (he was working in SBT then), gone we are packing our bags to the next destination. The life I had there gave me the best days so far. From the innocent kid who had no other aim in life but to play around with my friends, I have evolved to the present state, a big guy, who likes Bob Dylan, Syd Barrett, never remembers God at any moment of my stay here, never does sandhya vandan, watches incest movies, reads incest books, eats non vegetarian, tries to bring artificiality in things I do. Moreover, I look to friends with suspicion, watch him out to see what he /she upto is next. Too much evolution! Earlier I used to listen to my parents, think about the ethics that they have taught me and after all God, before doing something. Now I rely only on my logic for decision making. God knows if I have a perverted logic or not! I think even my friends out there also have changed like that. Our Gang leader Deepu; is somewhere in UAE now I guess. Divya his sister, the one to whom I was closest, I don’t know where she is too. I still remember her once in a month or so! Anand, my good friend, where are you? How about Shyam? Radhika and Shanthi, the siblings are in Hyderabad now (My mom keeps updating about them as their dad is our family friend and my mom’s colleague). And Divya (this is another one!) is the only one at the same place I guess.

So every time I go through that place, I will get down at the station, and look for them at the platform, and shout in my mind.. Hello hello hello… is there anybody in there??