‘Dugga Pujo and Me’—How kites ushered in Durga Puja
Fragrance of Shiuli flowers strewn on a morning path or sailing white clouds in the autumn sky… quintessential images of a Bengal autumn that speak of the arrival of Maa Durga… these images never came to my mind when I was a child. We were more engrossed in the cacophony of our school bus. I hardly ever followed these images even while looking out at times through the bus window.
On the contrary it was the image of colourful kites being made and kite-threads being dried in the sun, that always excited me. They were like the Neelkantha bird, telling me Durga Puja is not far behind. In those days, monsoon came on time and left on time. Hence to prepare the kite strings, several colourful threads smeared with broken glass pieces would be left to dry after the rains. Every para electric pole would be taken over by this myriad world of coloured threads.
Monsoon afternoons for us meant a game of carrom or table tennis, but as the autumn sky unfurled in all its glory, the semi-wet afternoons were all about elders flying kites. I would watch the ‘Kite Fight’ in the sky in awe. Mesmerised as Bho-katta kite games would be on and the sky turned into a war-zone. I do not know why, but such afternoons often reminded me of Mahabharata and of Jayadrath.
Much later one day, I was sitting in my room writing a screenplay, when suddenly I found a bright purple kite gliding into my room and falling at my feet. I was not prepared for its entry. But I picked it up and looked at it. Like a mirage, my childhood days flipped across, on the backdrop of the kite, that same paper, same colour and similar smell. Nothing had changed, not even the days of my childhood.
Within minutes I hear a commotion below my house, two groups of boys asking for the kite that had drifted into my room. Probably one group had won the game, but the kite originally belonged to the other group. I tried to make the groups understand that those who had cut the kite string in the Kite Fight, are the rightful owners and I would give them the kite back. Both the groups listened to me and left in silence, leaving the kite with me.
I had put it up on my wall like a picture. My room had yellow curtains and in the middle of that the purple kite sat like a colourful frame. One day it fell from its peak. These days I hardly get to see kites in Kolkata. Even chance encounters never happen, when a kite would fall right in front of my car. Though on Biswakarma Pujo some kites still fly in the sky. By the way, do these colourful kites also travel to Debanandapur? The village where on Bhadra Sankranti, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay was born? Was just wondering, have we forgotten that village and the kites too?
(Taken from Rituporno Ghosh’s First Person; Translated by Saheli Mitra)