Read on how to enrich your life by purpose, i.e. to find depth and, a reason to get out of bed each morning, your own Ikigai.
We welcome the Goddess when she comes on Durga Soshti, full of glory and love, but we also let her go on Dashami when it is time. This, the author says, defines the circle of our lives.
Yesterday was Durga Soshti, the 6th day of Durga Puja. The Goddess has come.
If you ever come to the East, you will know how much the Goddess’s coming means to us. The air around us changes. Each time, I stand under her towering idol; I know this woman will never abandon me. She will show up each time, I call for her. This is my faith. I am a daughter of East. And we call the Goddess “Maa.” In my heart, I am Durga’s daughter. Born of her spear. Born of her sweat. Born of her word. The word that said, “Be,” and it was. I am. We are.
I stay and work in Delhi. But it’s been more than 6 months; I am home, in Assam. I am working from home. I haven’t stayed for so long at home in years, but this time, I chose to. And maybe this is one of the best choices I made in years.
When I was a college student, I could not wait to go back to hostel. Home was a stop gap. We had the world to share with our friends. When you are that young, the world feels very friendly and bright.
Now I am a woman in my 30s. And I realize what a luxury and privilege it is to stay at your birth home. A home that is well maintained. The utility bills are paid. You sleep on clean and freshly washed bed sheets and pillow covers.
After living on my own, for more than a decade, I realize that this is a privilege. No one, not even your parents owe you a free home in your 30s, when they have given you every good that they could avail, while you were young and vulnerable. Yet having a well maintained porch to walk in evenings, fresh milk on table with healthy breakfast in the morning – this is privilege.
I don’t want to glorify the role of a parent. But in the same breath I know, no one will put a bowl of fruit salad on my table when I am watching Netflix, utterly unconcerned, after my mother. Life taught me your home is a privilege after a point in life. I have learnt to be just grateful. Apart from being a good daughter, I know there is nothing I can do.
This is the first time this realization has dawned. This is the first lesson I learnt this Durga Puja. That home is a privilege.
You will learn this with time, when you will have to deal with the real world. That I can complain about the soaked nuts at night because I don’t want to eat it every day, is a privilege. No one, owes me that.
My sister and my niece were here for 5 days. They left this morning, and before that I was having this conversation with my sister, now that we have seen a little of the world and learnt a few things.
One important lesson we spoke about is: none of us are going down history. We are ordinary women doing mundane things most of the time. We have lived ordinary lives. No Nobel Prize will come to us. But the beauty of life starts the day you accept this mundaneness.
I find it very therapeutic to do dishes and scrubbing the kitchen. It’s like a meditation, because at the end of the day we all work so hard to bring food to the table. And just because we had food today, I had a chance to clean the kitchen. We don’t cook when someone passes away – so when you cook it actually means everyone is alive and healthy and you had enough money to bring food to the table. I am so grateful each day when I clean the kitchen.
Life humbles us and how. When I was younger I had this need to be special. I guess everyone does. But life became special the day I accepted my own ordinariness. No matter what, you have to make your bed each day, clean and scrub the floors and wash your clothes. I only follow celebrities on Instagram, not in real life. In real life I am that ordinary woman who goes to the grocery shop to get her everyday vegetables and loves when the shopkeeper offers free chilies. This is me, deep down. Ordinary, mundane, yet so alive. And I am so grateful for that.
I have a friend, who got married a few months back. Right now his marriage is on rocks. The wife wants a divorce.
I spoke to him a few days back and he was telling me, how a year back a proposal came to him for marriage. The girl was a simple girl working with the Government. She was almost in awe of him. My friend is extremely successful. He made a lot of money and his success brought him a lot of attention.
My friend turned that proposal down. Till that it was fine, but he refused it saying something extremely mean. The girl wept and moved on.
My friend said that he was so high on his success that somewhere he started looking down at people who were not his peers. In his head he wanted to marry a super model, go on exotic holidays and be more successful. Maybe the Universe listened.
He met this girl just the way he wanted. They had a racy relationship for a few months. They landed in Bali and other places for vacations. Once married, they went to Africa for honeymoon. The marriage looked like a scene out of a Bollywood movie, it was that perfect. But my friend said that once the honeymoon was over and they started living together, the high wore off. Everyday seemed like a struggle. They would fight. Sex saved them sometimes, but that too started to wear off.
Marriage also means dealing with the everyday life, which is mundane. “Maybe we married for a racy life. But life becomes very ordinary after some time. You see the other person more closely. And maybe that’s where we failed. The day she asked me to leave the house she said something extremely mean. That hit me. Because those were the same words I spoke a year back when I turned that girl down. Life has some infallible ways to hit us.” My friend said.
Once he kept down the phone, I looked at this beautiful sky outside my window. The moon pinned itself so brightly in the sky. The crickets were creaking. And I remember what my mother once told me – that people handle failure much better than success. That line has stayed with me, forever. It takes grace to handle success.
I hope my friend finds his way through this mess. Sometimes breaking down is so important so that we stay in our paths. I assured my friend, once we hit the rock bottom; it just gets better from there.
Last year I was going through an emotional crisis. I remember it was Durga Puja then. I only kept asking, “Why me?” And one year later, I can’t be more grateful for that storm.
There was a part of me that I had outlived long back, but because it was my comfort zone, I refused to let it go. We die many times before our physical death. That part needed to die, I kept it in ventilation. So once the ventilation was turned off, I found it very difficult to accept that this has to go. I felt broken but had enough courage to choose only parts that will serve my further journey.
This year was about letting go. I let go of people; I loved till death, because love was not enough to sustain those relationships. We all have grown and evolved very differently. I still love them so much, but I learnt that you need to love some people from distance. That is sometimes self love. And when we are broken a new self is born.
From my crisis period, was born a new initiative where strangers write letters to each other. Last night I was reading a gratitude email from one of the receivers. A woman whose face I will never know. It hit me then, that this was my path. So that I am redirected here, that storm hit me. Some storms come to heal. I am more me now, than I ever was.
One of the greatest joy in life as a woman is to wake up and know that you are enough, irrespective of anyone. That I believe is to live an empowered life. For my choices are based on my needs, wants, and desires, not on someone else’s. That is to be enough.
My friend who is going through a messy marriage was a very good poet. I have read him long back. He sent me a four line poetry this morning, saying how after 2011, he is now trying to write again. Maybe this crisis was also needed in his life, so that he goes back to the friend we knew, who was loved and adored. The friend we could laugh with. Not the man he turned into a few years back, when he found success. Maybe this crisis is his renaissance as mine was, last year.
As I write this now, it’s late here. I am sure before I am up everyone will be at the Pandals to meet the Goddess again. But we all know that no matter how much we have loved her homecoming, on Dashami we will immerse her in water. We will let her go. This form will go and a new form will come next year.
This is also how our lives are; we keep dying to be born again and again. Last year, I was mourning; this year I am living with gratitude. This is how the seasons of life come. And we all wait for our turns to celebrate despite walking through mourning.
Because everything ends to begin, I take a lot of images wherever I go. I have taken so many with my relatives. I spent so much time with them. Now my chachis are my friends. One day when I look back, I want to miss people, not to live with the regret of not knowing them well. I know my family, my roots, my agony and ecstasy. This too is a part of success. This is what I finally understood this Durga Puja. To love till it lasts and then let go when the time comes.
And I am grateful; I had a chance at this thing called life.
To everyone celebrating, Happy Durga Puja!
Image source: Flickr
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Proud Indian. Senior Writer at Women's Web. Columnist. Book Reviewer. Street Theatre - Aatish. Dreamer.
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