|One of my favorite shots yet.|
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Bidyut Bannerjee stared into his reflection, his cup of coffee. His family's association with a Durga puja being held close to a major market place had it's advantages. Easy access, to convienience stores, cafes, bars and fast food joints.
But right now, it wasn't about all that. It was the day of Ram Navami. The day before Raavan met his fate. It was also the last day of Durga on Earth, before she returned to her heavenly abode. He noticed himself, his sunken eyes...his lips...as if he had grown into a 23 year old sitting right there in that corner cafe.
It was amusing how every year, on this particular day, the next years pujas seemed far away, and somehow a week before they arrived, it would feel like time had zipped past.
He pondered over the last few pujos, the last few Navamis. He was a different person then, with different priorities, different skill sets, different relationships…..
Somehow, every puja, a particular group of friends he wouldn’t meet the entire year, perhaps only on rare occasion, would find themselves together around the same table, making merry, like nothing could go wrong.
It used to be ice creams at first. Then coffee and cakes at a Café and now it was over drinks. With time, their conversations had also matured.
He remembered chatting up with the first love of his life over ice cream. He was maybe 10 perhaps 12 then. He remembered having coffee with her late afternoon after all the bhog was served to a few thousand devotees when he was 14. A full course meal. It was hard work, even though all both of them had to do was put plates napkins and spoons together. She didn’t graduate to the drinks table. She became a different person, with different tastes and priorities. He often missed her, her childlike smile, her innocence, the way she carried herself. Maybe they were much younger then, or maybe that magnetism was real and could happen again.
He remembered how Arsenal used to have 9 out of 11 french players, a particular undefeated season that was on during the pujas long back. Now it was a stupid team like Chelsea that was winning. (They were brilliant, but somehow he didn’t love the team). How a team like Liverpool was drowning in fears of relegation. He remembered what it was like to play football for the school team.
He was one of the youngest in the group. When he was in high school, most had already finished or were completing their under graduation. But he fit in just fine. And he was taken in with no hiccups. Every year, no matter how difficult it would be, everyone would make it a point to meet up. It had become difficult since those days. Work would keep people busy. Like all starting jobs, they were all given hell.
But nothing could keep them from living it up during this time. There was this sense of security that enveloped them around this time…it was there…but hard to explain…
His thoughts were interrupted by Apoorv, five years his senior. If there were tricks to live out high school and college, he got it all from him.
“Just got off the phone, Seema will make it…last day… beer tonight bro?”