Mr. Bose finally succeeded in getting down from the rickshaw. The hand-pulled rickshaws in Kolkata are difficult for him to climb up and down from. He held two bags and the rickshaw-waala helped him with the other two. One could clearly figure out, by having a look at the bags, the amount of grocery shopping he had done. His wife helped him to the kitchen.
The Bose’s lived in Central Kolkata and their house was situated in one of those narrow lanes where all the houses shared the same wall - a feature quite typical of Central Kolkata.
Mr. Chatterjee, their neighbour, shouted out from his verandah.
‘So, it seems it will be a grand affair this time as well, eh?’
Mr. Bose replied, ‘Chatterjee da, after all it comes once a year and it feels great when the whole neighbourhood celebrates together!’
Mr. Ghosh, walking towards his house, joined in, ‘So, our hosts are gearing up? Who's the cook this time?"
Mrs. Bose smiled. ‘Your friend himself, who else?’
‘Aah. Amazing. So, Shishir are we getting to taste your famous pineapple pickle again?’
‘Absolutely!! This time with Anjan's favourite papads!’, Mr. Bose exclaimed.
‘Oh! The fuss he made last year, for not serving him the pickle with papad!’, Mr. Chatterjee agreed.
‘That man, I tell you, can kill you for food.’
From behind, Mrs. Chatterjee replied ‘And that too, good food. Quality and quantity is a must for him.’
Mrs. Bose joined in, directing her conversation to Mrs. Chatterjee.
‘Mandira di, all good? How is Meera? I heard her son wasn't well for a couple of days?’
"She is doing pretty well, and my grandson has become a real 'gunda' I tell you. He has become so naughty. My daughter literally has to run after him with his food. Although he is absolutely fine as long as he is not going to school.’
‘How is the weather out there Mandira di?’ Mr. Ghosh was curious.
‘It’s very cold now.’
Mr. Chatterjee added. ‘Meera said it might snow in Texas!’
Mrs. Ghosh asked, ‘You both will be leaving this summer to visit Meera I heard?’
‘Yes, yes. Summers are mild there. It’s too chilly in winters.’
Mr. Ghosh replied, ‘God's blessings are on you that your child is still in touch with both of you. Nowadays, they forget their parents so easily.’
Mrs. Chatterjee changed the topic. ‘Bina, your son is doing really well I heard? He got a marvellous result in his class eight finals, right?’
Mrs. Bose replied proudly, ‘Yes, he works hard, I have seen that. I pray to God every day for his bright future.’
Mr. Ghosh reciprocated the pride, ‘It’s in his eyes Bina di, I am sure he will make you both proud.’
Mr Bose, finally ended the conversation. ‘I better get back to work. There's a lot to do this evening.’
‘And it’s already 11o' clock. I better get going. It’s too late. See all of you today evening then.’
Mr. Chatterjee replied, ‘See you in the evening Mr. Ghosh.’
Every year the Bose family of Central Kolkata, conducts a Laxmi Puja on the day of Diwali and inviting the whole neighbourhood is a must. Their son Rishabh is the youngest in the neighbourhood and thus, is the most loved one. Mr. and Mrs. Bose love their son to the sky and beyond and during Diwali they fill up his room with his desired crackers. Fulfilling all of his demands makes them happy. Especially in Diwali, to see the glow in his eyes, when he receives the crackers from his father.
Diwali and Laxmi Puja is a huge celebration at the Bose's. The whole neighbourhood is invited for the puja, in the evening. Their family and relatives come over. Mr. Bose is known for his culinary skills and thus the whole neighbourhood gets a taste of it. It feels great to see their whole family together - their son running around the courtyard with his friends bursting the caps and their neighbours, uncles, aunts, cousins and the elderly people enjoying themselves. For them, it’s a huge family. Serving them provides Mr. & Mrs. Bose with a huge satisfaction. It is like a family reunion to them. It’s the reason why they wait for Diwali every year- to join in the fun in the family reunion. It becomes a beautiful framed picture that they hold close to their hearts.
The sound of the chocolate bomb shook Mr. Bose as he was recollecting the past memories. His wife had long kept the evening tea on his table. It had turned cold now. Their house is empty, even though it is Diwali today. Not a single call from his son. ‘Why should he?’ Mr. Bose told himself. ‘He is established after all, in the States.’
Yet another Diwali passed by. Their house remained silent - uninvited to the celebration of togetherness. Resting on the chair he thought – “Time flies, people change and so does life.”
Photography By: Kanika Narang