Dreams are renewable. No matter what our age or condition, there are still untapped possibilities within us and new beauty waiting to be born.

-Dale Turner-

Thursday 2 October 2008

Navaratri 2008

At my maternal grandmother's house, there was a navratri room. I simply called it so because there was nothing else that the room was used for. No one would use an asbestos-roofed room for anything else. The adjustable kolu stand would become an almirah for toys, unholy mills and boons that my younger aunts probably read on the sly and a lot of other junk.

The room had a nice view of the street and I used to play many an imaginary game there. I used to re-model it in my head to fit my dozen maternal cousins at least once together under one roof. Somehow, every time I scrounged this room, I would find a new old magazine or comic to while my time away with.

Once, many years after I was no longer scared or in awe of the room and simply went by force of habit and nothing to do, I picked up a small novel "the mysterious intruder" thinking it to be a detective story. I was disappointed because no murder or theft cropped up, just silly talking and walking and smiling all around. It was my first M&B. I read four or five of them later, but remember this plot so vividly. I was after all 12.

Later, when the family went through bad times and some rooms had to be rented, it was used for my uncle's business. As his employees deftly packed combs and pens, I would walk around the room trying to see if the old shelves had some corners and junk left for me. But then real estate was priceless.

Back to navratri. I never liked the room during navratri, it was no longer my secret garden. It was washed and scrubbed, the ten steps creaked under the dolls, you could'nt walk or run because there was too much rangoli powder all around; and it was curtained and filled with the lot of brightly coloured aunties and grandmothers who kept reminding my mum to send me for music lessons.

I must tell this for my youngest aunt, though there is a lot left to be desired in her, she was an ace in decoration. I still remember how she grew real grass on some damp soil and created a beautiful cricket pitch and garden with dolls.

But Navratri became interesting only when we moved near my high school and many of my other classmates. We girls would wear pattu pavadais and deck up with jewellery and go around looking at Kolus. When the singing rigmarole came, I started to nudge others and slink into the background.

By then, most of us had cycles and these evening tours became an independent social affair. There was no more tagging mums and aunts. The kolu at our school was of course priceless, with an entire hall filled with dolls of many themes and some kutcheri or programme in the background.

We continued the affair making it an annual get together during college years but now the tradition is broken. I dont remember the last kolu I saw, so today morning as I saw one at a friend's place where I was for some work, there is a wave of nostalgia. I am making it a point to visit a few other friends and my maternal grandmother's place.

It is no longer a grand affair, but my aunt, the wonderfully patient wife of my uncle, is sprucing it up each year to reach the old standards and maybe soon it will go upstairs and fill the entire navratri room.







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