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Ranajoy Rakshit (Bhomla)
Puddapukur Barwari Samity,
At the very onset, let me thank you for your emotionally touching letter inviting me and my family over for the Durga pujas that your para will be celebrating for the 77th consecutive year. My children and I were moved by the warmth that your invitation bore and take the opportunity of showering our choicest blessings on you.
However much we look forward to our annual journey to my maternal abode, this year it seems that we will be forced to give it a miss and it is with a very heavy heart that I say this. I am waging a relentless battle to make everyone agree to my plans for this sojourn but till date, the odds against are overwhelming and I am yet to come up with legitimate responses to the objections that have been raised by the members of my family.
As you are aware, my Lord is under severe stress as repeated Chinese incursions have led to his habitat loss. This coupled with unplanned (and some say unwarranted) damming of the rivers have run havoc with the fragile eco-system of the Himalaya’s leading to climate change and its attendant fallout – frequent cloudbursts, landslides, flash floods – the results of which was manifested in Uttarakhand this summer itself and was the staple of your news channels for many days at a stretch. The devastation, whose impact is yet to be assessed was one of unmitigated scale and was condemned by everyone save Narendra Modi’s PR managers who seized the opportunity to do their “Saffron Superman saving stranded Gujrathis” gig. Naturally, my Lord is not very keen to go on a holiday, leaving things in the state of turmoil that they are in.
The falling Rupee too has added to our woes. Don Kallol of the “Corleone Association of Bengali’s in Los Americas (CABLA)” aided by a robust US economy and strong Dollar has “made an offer we cannot refuse”. If Syria reaches the flash point and the West decides to mount another cowboy expedition, weapon company shares will go through the roof, sucking out Dollars from economies like India back into the US. The Rupee will fall further, adding to the spiral and we may end up being forced to share the dais with self styled perpetrators of Bengali culture and sundry Tollywood starlets in the States.
Rail fares too are expected to go up anytime as the outgo on account of the petroleum basket has really shot up, thanks to the imbroglio in the Middle East. This burden, on a Government suffering from policy paralysis, cash crunch and a promise to offer food security to the population, that too, on an election year, may well be the proverbial last straw, and we don’t want to be there when it happens.
My daughters Laxhmi and Saraswati too are not very keen to make the journey. As it is, they are hardly invoked in Bengal these days and complain of feeling alienated and unwanted in a state that is pursuing change with a vengeance. To complicate matters, they were greeted with cat-calls with some lumpen elements referring them as “Tumpa and Mousumi” and are fearful that they may be branded as Maoists and given the works. With no industry worth mentioning and the entire education system in shambles, they fear that in such a forsaken land, they will have no followers to take up their cause and therefore would rather not visit the state, than suffering the ignominy of rejection and ridicule.
Kartikeyan, as you know was doing quite well for himself as an agent of a leading multi level marketing company, aka Chit Fund. However, the promoters have vamoosed, leaving him to face the wrath of the irate investors and the political masters who were on the payroll of the company have all but washed their hands off the sordid drama. He is now on the run and keeps away from making any public appearance for obvious reasons. He too, is thus ruled out.
My youngest son Ganesha too is crestfallen and in no mood to budge. His two consorts, Riddhi and Siddhi are refusing to come back from their maternal abode in Western India alleging a lack of opportunities in Bengal. Ganesha himself is not at all keen to make the journey and says it is neigh impossible for him to find a like-minded person with whom he can even hold a decent conversation in the state. Most of this old friends are on either side of the “Us and Them” divide and are now united only by candle marches and State splurged awards.
Even Ashura, the personification of all evil, whom I am supposed to vanquish, is unable to give us dates for the ritual slaying. He has tweeted to his 6 million followers that he might not be able to make it this year as his demand from Syndicate owners to local politicians have really gone up and as he is earning a lot more by lending his muscle to promoters than he has made so far by playing a bit role at my feet. “The people of Bengal have finally understood the real meaning of power play and are now turning worshippers” the bugger has written, changing his Facebook status to “Riding the winds of Change and enjoying every bit”!
My mount, the Lion too is running scared as Alipore Zoo authorities have aired their desire to have him adopted by a Corporate Sponsor, who is hell bent on turning him vegetarian as a test case against the consumption of red meat.
As you are aware, I have this fascination for the colour Red, which, till the other day was considered auspicious for all matters religious. However, I am shocked by the diktat that many Puja organisers have sent me veiled as a request, to coiffure myself in a Green Saree to “better reflect the ground realities and in honour of the popular mandate”. While I was willing to consider this as a childish wail, I absolutely refuse to sport green vermilion (sindoor) which is a Hindu lady’s most prized possession, her most revered ornament. One irreplaceable district president, over whom even the Election Commission’s writ doesn’t run, has ordered his followers to hurl bombs at the police if anyone dares to do otherwise, and I, a typical Bengali Bhodrolok’s wife, am scared.
The coffers of the state are empty. Industries have done the vanishing trick. Agriculture has been hijacked by the middlemen. The lumpen, lunatic fringe has gone main stream in politics. Electoral compulsions have not only thrown up strange bed fellows but have also ensured that together they subvert the Rule of Law. Excellence in carnal pursuits has become the most sought after way of showing individual prowess and academia has been pushed into the dark recesses of oblivion. My son, let me be forthright – I do not want to make the journey as I am scared, that given the circumstances, I may not be strong enough to change the inevitable.
The “good triumphing over evil” story line may well enfold with a twist in the proverbial tale as good may not be strong enough to do the triumphing. Not in this place. Not in these times.
May you have the strength to accept the things that you cannot change, the courage to change the things that you can and the wisdom to see the difference.
Your’s ever loving,
You can follow me in Twitter: @CharmChawm