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Everything Returns During Vijayadashami…..My Parents Will Return Too!

An emotional story about a boy who hopes that everything would return during Durga puja, even his dead parents.

A few days before Vijayadashami (day of victory), the tenth day of the Durga puja festival, the children gathered around the dining table to have their mid-morning snacks. Their mother cut pears and apples for them. After a chorus of request, she also agreed to distribute two plain biscuits per child. She was always very particular to give her children freshly cooked, healthy food. Anything else was doled out in very small and measured quantities.

The school holidays had already begun and the children, who were very young, wanted to know what the festival was all about. Rahul, who, at six years of age, was the eldest of the children asked, “Mumma, yesterday when we had gone to the pandal I saw the statue of Durga. She was riding on a tiger and the they were both attacking a man who was lying under her feet. Is he a bad man? Why is she hurting him?”

Rahul’s mother had a pretty vivid imagination and liked to give her own spin to Hindu mythology. She replied, “He is a very bad man, and, in fact, he is not a man at all. He is the buffalo demon Mahishasura, and he loves to eat people, especially plump and juicy little kids. On the first day of Durga puja, he emerges from pataal lok , the hellish home of the demons or asuras. For nine days and nights he roams around the Earth, with an insatiable appetite, looking for people to eat. Meanwhile, the gods go to goddess Durga and beg her to kill the demon. She climbs upon her ferocious tiger, and together they embark on a hunt for the buffalo demon. Upon hearing that Durga is searching for him, the demon runs away, still eating whoever he finds on the way. On the tenth day, the chase ends, and finally there is a mighty battle between them, and with her deadly weapon, the three-pronged Trishul, she kills Mahishasura.”

The younger child, four-year-old Ryansh, who till then had been quietly listening, fascinated and wide-eyed, asked his mom, “But Mumma, my teacher told me that the name of the demon is Ravana, and he has ten heads. Every time somebody would cut off one of his heads, it would grow back. Then, the great king Ram killed him with his bow and arrow. Like this…” And the little one proceeded to demonstrate by pretending to release an imaginary arrow from an imaginary bow.

“But Mumma”, Rahul adjusted his glasses and asked, “didn’t we see the same pandals last year, and last year Ravana’s statue was burnt, and the year before too. Don’t these demons stay dead?” His mother explained, “Oh no, of course they don’t stay dead. They are magical creatures and they come back to life every year. Then every year Durga and Ram have to go around hunting them and killing them. It is an endless cycle of good versus evil. They live, die and become alive again. Next year again, during Durga puja and Dusshera, be really careful while going down to play. I don’t want Mahishasura or Ravana eating you guys up.” Ryansh whispered in a serious voice, “Mumma, we will all be very careful.”

Next year was the year of the pandemic. Mother and father were government school teachers. The government went ahead with state elections in March, even as the threat of the coronavirus pandemic loomed large. As government employees, the parents were posted at various election booths. No choice was given, full compliance demanded. One doesn’t know who got the virus first, but first husband, then wife, were both hospitalized. One by one they both died, without saying even their last goodbyes to the kids. Their grandmother (father’s mother) took the kids, worried how she would look after them in her old age. Their uncle (father’s brother) would help out, bring them gifts to keep them happy.

The thing is, Rahul never cried. It really bothered his grandmother that the child looked so calm and mature. Ryansh would still grab some soft toys to comfort himself, or cry out at night for his mother. But Rahul was stoic, silent. His Dadi asked him one day, “Rolu babu, my sweet boy, do you miss Mumma and Papa? Do you remember them?” “Yes, I remember them. I miss them a lot”, Rahul calmly replied. “What do you miss my dear”, his grandmother pursued, wanting him to open up to her. He replied, “I miss the jokes papa would play on me. He was very funny, always made me laugh. Mumma was stricter, but I miss her hugs, her stories.” His grandmother gave him a hug and kissed his forehead. She looked sad so Rahul took her face in his hands and wiped away her tears. “Don’t cry Dadi”, he said, “just wait till October. Everyone comes back then.” “Who comes back?” his grandmother enquired. Rahul replied with, a big smile on his hopeful little face, “Everyone who dies. They all come back during Durga puja. Mahishasura returns, Ravana returns, even Durga returns. Mumma and Papa will also come back at that time. I can’t wait to meet them, Dadi.” Overpowering her self-restraint, tears tumbled freely down his grandmother’s face, as Rahul ran off to play with his little brother.

Image Source: Still from Youtube Video

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About the Author

Neha Singh

I am a proud mom to two beautiful little boys, loving wife to a darling man, and a grateful daughter of wonderful parents. Before taking a career break to be a stay at home mom read more...

4 Posts | 6,094 Views

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