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That Diwali

About Kheya Baidya

Kheya Baidya has pursued Literature (MA; B. Ed; PhD; PGDT) as her subject academically; how and when it turned to become her life, she fails to decipher today. But definitely standing at this juncture of her life, when she has no more to prove herself with her academic scores, she promises never to leave her. Poetry is her life, her breath, her passion and love. From Chaucer, Donne, to Browning, Kipling, Kamala Das and Vikram Seth, she has fallen in love with each one of them. Charles Lamb and John Keats are the ones who still make her cry. She feels she is blessed to be burning in this pyre of love for poetry. She writes what she feels from the heart, and they just come to her like leafs do to a tree.

Kheya has served as a career counsellor at Loreto College, Darjeeling. She was associated with Government college Darjeeling, held talk shows at Akashvani, published poems and articles in Times of India and The Telegraph. Presently, she is working as senior English teacher at DPS, -Siluguri

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She looked out of the window. The streets were illuminated; flickers of intermittent crimson and amber lights were casting varied patterns on the walls of her dark room. The noise of the passing buses, cabs, cars, honking rickshaws, vendors, even faint voices of men and women, though distant, resonated joyousness of the festivity. It was the day before Diwali. Houses in the neighbourhood were decorated with earthen lamps, electric bulbs, and rangoli.

Nita liked this darkness. It had entered her life and was to stay. The last Diwali, her son was with her. It was years now that her husband had left her. It was he who had named their son Atlanto –  ‘one whose depth was fathomless’. She had brought him up single handed.

“Mamma, don’t! I hate the ‘thum’ sound of the crackers!” Then Antu was three.

“Mamma! Can I invite my friends this Diwali?” Then Antu was twelve.

“Mamma! Rashi’s parents live in New Town. May I spend the evening with them? They are elated that I got selected in MIT.” That was when…..

That was when … she had become absolutely alone.

Earlier, it was Atul who made Diwali meaningful for her. Even after he left, she had Antu. She tried to make the festival special for him, bought him toys, crackers, decorated the house and never let him feel the absence of his father. She took pride in his academic success. His teacher of sixth standard, Mrs. Debjani, had called her to say, “Mrs. Banerjee! It’s a pleasure to have your son in my class.” Those words had filled her life. She felt complete.

She often talked to herself in her loneliness. She complained, “Atul, you went away, its been years. You moved ahead in your life, you settled again. Even I could, but didn’t. I had Antu. How could you forget Antu,and  all the dreams that we had seen together? You know, he has grown up to be just like you! The same smile, same confidence, same strong shoulders. .He is so tall for his age. He is so quiet…”

Nita wondered how life had cheated on her again and again. Friends in her office often told her, “Go out! Make friends. You have a life too. Antu is growing and will be what he is destined to be. It’s ok! You too can go out with friends for some time. Have fun, watch a movie. It will relax you. You are still so beautiful. Dress well and be happy.”

But Nita had just prioritised the needs of Antu over everything else. Be it his homework, his project, his birthday or his health. Even Antu got irritated with her at times. He had told her mom once, “Start living for yourself. You need to be occupied. When I will go to college, you will become too lonely.”

But Nita was too much obsessed with her motherhood to understand his words then.

Yesterday the courier had delivered a packet from Silicon Valley, US.

Antu worked with Google now. Nita’s dreams had come true. Her son had reached his dream destination. Along with the packet, he had sent his regrets for his inability to spend Diwali in Kolkata.

They are going to Hawaii this weekend.

He seemed so thrilled to be visiting the islands. He mentioned how they would stay in the best of the suits in the best sea-facing resort. He had even expressed  happiness over his success in the last project at office; he was being considered for the position of GM.

In the darkness, with the packet of gift in her hands, Nita wondered why she could not share the joy of her son! Why could she not feel proud of her son’s success! She recollected how much she used to be elated when he topped the class and had even distributed new saree’s to relatives during Diwali, the year when he had qualified for the NTSE  scholarship. The things which should have given her the greatest gratification of life was somehow failing to lift her spirits. Instead, tears were flowing down her eyes.

She tried to peep within herself as she made conscious efforts to bless her son that Diwali.

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5 Response Comments

  • Anju Parihar01/11/2016 at 9:14 PM

    Really touching story, close to reality…..keep up the good work dear Kheya

  • Suparna Bhaumick06/11/2016 at 11:47 PM

    I could see so much similiarity in the story with my life

  • Shravasti19/12/2016 at 8:21 PM

    Heartrending….but a oft witnessed phenomenon that must be experienced by every ageing parents who had once strived to see their children well settled abroad.

  • Rahul Kumar01/06/2017 at 12:30 PM

    Wow! Beautiful and touching.
    Hats off to her (Nita).
    Really inspiring.
    Had to call mom after reading it. Thank you mam.

    • KheyaBaidya02/06/2017 at 6:31 AM

      Thanks to you for being a responsible son. Couldn’t expect a better response….. continue being the lovable son

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