Durga Puja is celebrated by Bengalis and Assamese with much colour and fanfare all over the world, with the same spirit as Chinese New Year, Id (Hari raya) or Christmas. It starts this year from the October 4th evening and continues to October 9th. Here are two poems written by Amlanjyoti Goswami for this occasion.

A New Yorker Misses Durga Puja

I do not miss much

But sometimes

Stopping by the 45th and 5th

When my avenues and streets get mixed up

I look up

See towers in steel

Hear the giant rumbling

A little feeling enters me

Like a hotdog crumb between my teeth

And I feel

What they must feel…

 

The crowd heaving, thunder drums, evening lamps

The goddess with those fiery eyes.

 

But the moment passes.

I walk on.

A train to catch, a deadline nearing…

By Ankita Banerjee

The skyscrapers along the nameless street grew four times bigger that afternoon, like a dozen of Hulks coming to life all at once. I picked up pace, but tripped over something and fell down on the sidewalk.  The result was a palpable twinge on my left arm. There was a clothesline tied across what seemed to my eight-year-old self as two gigantic green  skyscrapers and on it hung my mother’s petticoats and a pair of her old red ribbons. “Slow down, it’s going to pour,” she called out to me from faraway. But I was so close to where I wanted to be; I couldn’t wait.

“Fresh catches for only 50 taka (rupees in Bengali) per kilo!” fishmongers cried from the ferry terminal down the street. I walked down gingerly through its slushy stairs. Across the mighty river, Chandannagar sparkled with lights that brought to life mythological birds and animals and vivid blooming flowers sketched on display boards. And then I saw the silvery hilsa (fish found in the Indian subcontinent) — gleaming with a touch of regal pink, stacked all around.

I was still eight, sitting at the doorstep of my mother’s old kitchen and watched her fry ring-shaped pieces of the hilsa in mustard oil. She put two heaped spoons of steamed rice on my plate and mixed it with the oil of hilsa roe and a pinch of salt with her turmeric stained peaky fingers. “Let me pick out the bones for you,” the warmth in her voice echoed from the other end of time and coiled into a globe of ache in my chest. The pain on my left arm was no longer obscure.