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Arnab Ray is the author of “May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss” and “The Mine”. He blogs at and can be followed at @greatbong.
Saraswati Pujo is called the Valentine’s Day of the Bengalis. While I cannot comment on the lived experience of others, and I understand that those who lived in apartment blocks with Saraswati Pujos of their own used this day as a means of unfettered interactions with humanoid forms of opposite gender, yellow saris and orange kurtas and stolen glances and suppressed giggles; such opportunities were closed to me by virtue of my circumstances. Which is why that type of acche din remained only a dream for me, like making money from crypto.
However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a good time. Nothing signifies a deep devotion to the goddess of learning more than not studying on her day, and so all the heavy books, of Chemistry and Maths and Stats, were placed below her pedestal to prevent being made to pull them out. A day of ‘no study’, growing up in the hypercompetitive Bengali middle class of my youth, was a Shawshank Redemption climax scene type experience, where each moment could be savoured. Since there was little TV, and no internet, beautiful small things filled up that window of freedom, and the most beautiful was the food.
Saraswati Pujo was the day of sugary treats. It wasn’t that as a Bengali kid I didn’t have sweets, I actually had too many, but the typical Saraswati Pujo treat was unique in that it dispensed with the fluff, and got right down to the good parts – the sugar. How many different ways and shapes and consistencies can you have of sugar? A Saraswati Pujo plate is the right place to find out. While many a Bengali may have been enjoying the sweet comforts of human companionship on that day, my time was better spent with the ‘nokuldana’ and ‘batasa’ and ‘kodma’ and the Thanos of them all, the formidable ‘matth’.
And while I don’t know how much learning that I imbibed in those days I still carry with me, I would guess very little, my blood still has in it the elevated glucose of past Saraswati Pujos, and so what if my heart didn’t flutter then, it does now, thanks to the sugar again, and I feel thankful to Ma Saraswati for teaching me the most useful thing in life, not Maths or Chemistry or Stats, but just to be thankful.
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Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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