“Thanksgiving & Hilsa”

Story of a geek guy with Hilsa memories:-

It was probably your way of “Thanksgiving”. You had cooked two Hilsa preparations and invited me to relish the same. I was scared to accept your invitation. I was scared to invade your home with my ruffled thoughts of last summer. However, I couldn’t resist the idea of having food made by you; I couldn’t resist the idea of looking at you without any interruption. You are so irresistible!

When I reached, your captivating smile and a delicious aroma of freshly cooked mustard Hilsa welcomed me; I felt like home.

“I thought you will not come; still I hoped against hope…” She smiled at me.
“You invited me…how can I skip?” I assured trying to forget the issues called ‘past’.
“Thanks.” You led me to the dining table and I noticed a row of ornamental vines hanging happily near the balcony. A few paper-made wall hangings are trying to give the home a happy look. You are trying earnestly to act like a happy person. Sadly, I too act like, everything is okayed.
And then, the celestial moment came. You served me rice, “Sorshe Illish” (mustard hilsa) and “Illish bhapa” (steamed hilsa). I was elated with food and you, both.  The pungent green chillies and notorious mustard seeds set my taste buds on fire. I was untying the banana leaves to expose the queen of fish and you were looking at my finger movements.
“What’s it dear?”
“Nothing,” you chuckled, “you eat very slowly.”

“I am just cautious” I replied.

“Are you afraid of fish bones?” you laughed musically and I smiled like a stupid dolt.
“Let me separate the bones…”
“No, it’s okay; I’ll manage.”
You made me eat four pieces of fish. Deep inside, I felt something strong for you; I am still drunk of you just like before. Your yellow-green saree was so enticing. You are like my mom; so loving yet so pungent.
I was a bit uneasy while having the fish. I was trying not to wet my eyes with memories; I was attentive to behave normally.  

I couldn’t say, “I still love you.” But that day felt like a dawn of civilization; so new and so fresh. I consumed the food made by you. I consumed the purest form of “amrito”. I couldn’t ask for more.

She softly started, “For once I wanted to feel like I am your wife. For once, I ate after my beloved finished his meal. For once, I felt like I am living my dream.” She stopped and I looked at her teary eyes. I felt like I was alive to listen her musical voice and these words.

©Joyee

The Ganapati Diaries

To the girl I met during Ganapati utsav,

It was my first time in Mumbai. I was still trying to connect the lines of the sleepless city. And adventitiously, Ganapati festival hit Mumbai to overwhelm me. I timidly showed up at the society’s Ganapati feast. In such an evening of drizzling rains and the boisterous Ganapati festival, your eyes met mine! You were wearing a green-pink paithani silk in Marathi style. And you were looking fabulous. Your Marathi nathani (nose pin) made your face even sweeter; the small crescent moon bindi on forehead snatched all my concentrations. You smiled at me and one thousand chandeliers lit up. A smile simply crept into my lips.
You said, “Take a modak, it’s delicious” holding a big bowl of modaks before me. I don’t like sweets but I took one just to make you happy.
“Thanks” I uttered.
“New here?” You asked spreading the luminous smile.
“Yes. From Kolkata”. I replied.
“Happy Ganesh Chathurthi” You greeted me.
Your happy face made me happy inside.
“Same to you” said I. I wish I could show you how fast my heart was beating at that moment. I waned to talk to you. I wanted to say “You look beautiful”. But my lips lost words. You got busy distributing sweets among others. I realized, suddenly all my sadness, boredom and homesickness are gone and I am loving this evening. I am loving the Ganapati festival. I am loving life once again. I am not lost anymore. I looked at lord ganesha. He is staring at us with omnipresent eyes. I asked for blessings.
My eyes searched for you once more. My eyes wanted to get a glance of your face but you were nowhere. Finally, I discovered you at the feet of Ganapati Bappa. You were sobbing. And a girl was trying to console. I hesitantly walked towards you. The crowd was light by the time; the rain had stopped.
“What happened?” I asked. She looked up hearing my voice. The teary eyes were too sad to look at. She continued to sob while the other girl replied.
“Her lover Amrut died last year during immersion of Ganapati. Today the incident completes one year.” I was shocked. I don’t know what to say. She was hiding so much pain under those greeting smiles. Slowly, I held her hand, “Girl, I will give my shoulder whenever you want to cry.” I don’t know what magic my words did but she tried to erase the tears and looked at me.
“You don’t even know me.”
“I will” said I. Once again her “nathani” winked at me as she tried to smile amid those tears. No one noticed a nerd Bengali boy won the heart of a Marathi girl.

Sincerely yours,
That Bengali boy

©Joyee

 

চোখের তারায় আয়না ধরো

আমার কৈশোরে এমি ওয়াইনহাউসেকে দেখেই প্রথম জেনেছিলাম winged eyeliner বা ডানাওয়ালা আইলাইনার আসলে কি বস্তু; অবশ্য সত্তর আশির দশকের নায়িকারাও এভাবেই তাদের আঁখিপাতাকে সাজাত। আমি যে সময়টায় পনেরো-ষোলো তখন সবাই ওই আইলাইনারই লাগত, কখনও বা ইচ্ছে হলে একটু মাস্কারা, এর বেশি কিছু পরার চল ছিলনা, অন্তত টিনএজের মেয়েদের মধ্যে। এখন যখন দেখি সব বাচ্চা মেয়েরা কি নিরুপদ্রবে আইভ্রু পর্যন্ত এঁকে নিচ্ছে আইভ্রু লাইনার দিয়ে , তখন হিংসে তো হয়ই।

আমি তখন সবে মাত্র ষোলো। আইলাইনার, কাজল, মাস্কারা কিছুই ব্যবহার করি না, শুধু কোনো নিমন্ত্রণ থাকলে একটু আইলাইনার লাগাতাম। এসবের মধ্যেই হঠাৎ গোল বাঁধল একটা ষ্টার-স্ট্যাম্প আইলাইনারকে কেন্দ্র করে; আমার এক দূরসম্পর্কের আত্মীয়া আমাকে একটি ষ্টার-স্ট্যাম্প আইলাইনার উপহার দিলেন…তখন পর্যন্ত ওই বস্তুটি কি, খায় না মাথায় দেয় আমিতো তাও জানতাম না; কিন্তু উনি ব্যবহার করা শিখিয়ে দিয়েছিলেন। যেভাবে আমরা সাদা কাগজে স্ট্যাম্প মারি কালি দিয়ে , ঠিক তেমনি! এখানে স্ট্যাম্প হল ওই সরু আইলাইনারের মুখে লাগান একটা ছোট্ট তারা, আর বোতাম টিপলে ভিতর থেকে কালি আসবে…ব্যাস, এবার চোখের কোণে, গালে, থুতনিতে যেখানে ইচ্ছে ষ্টার স্ট্যাম্প মেরে নিলেই হল। অনেকে কাজল পেন্সিল দিয়ে চোখের পশে উল্কি আঁকে, আর এ হল রেডিমেড উল্কি, অনেক বেশি সূক্ষ্য, নিখুঁত আর শুধু একটি স্ট্যাম্প দিলেই কেল্লাফতে! কি সুন্দর চোখের পলকে ষ্টার ছাপ পড়ে যেত, দেখেই ভাল লাগত।

আমি ঠিক করলাম এটা পরে বন্ধুদের চমকে দিতে হবে, কিন্তু স্কুলে তো আর ওসব পরে যাওয়া সম্ভব নয়! স্কুলে তখন প্রায়ই নখ চেক হত, আর সেখানে আইলাইনার পরে গেলে তো আর রক্ষে নেই। তো আমি বন্ধুদের চমকে দেওয়ার জন্য দুর্গাপুজোর সপ্তমী বাছলাম। ঠিক হল ঐদিন বন্ধুরা মিলে ঠাকুর দেখব। কাউকে ঘুণাক্ষরেও আমার এই আইলাইনারের কথা বললাম না, স্কুলে যথারীতি পুজোর ছুটি পড়ে গেল আর আমি অপেক্ষায় থাকলাম কবে ওই ডানাওয়ালা আইলাইনার আঁকব, ষ্টার-স্ট্যাম্প আইলাইনার দিয়ে নিজেকে সাজাব আর আমার বন্ধুরা আমাকে দেখে চমকে যাবে। মেয়েরা কি আর শুধু ছেলেদের জন্য সাজে, মেয়েরা তো সাজে অন্য মেয়েদের দেখাবে বলে !  

যাই হোক,সপ্তমীর দিন খুব ভাল করে সাজলাম, অঙ্গে পিওর সিল্ক, কানে ঝুমকো, আঁখিপল্লবে আইলাইনার আর অতি অবশ্যই ষ্টার-স্ট্যাম্প আইলাইনার অর্থাৎ চোখের পাশে ছোট্ট ছোট্ট তারা। আমি গিয়ে পৌঁছলাম সবার আগে, মণ্ডপে বসে আছি, দেখি মৌমিতা আসছে । ও জামদানি পরেছে আর খোঁপায় গোলাপ; হঠাৎ দেখি ওর চোখের কোণে কি যেন….একি!!! ওর চোখের কোণে দেখি ছোট্ট বাঁকা চাঁদ…ক্রিসেন্ট মুন স্টাইলে অর্ধচন্দ্র আঁকা ওর থুতনিতেও।

আমাকে অবাক হয়ে তাকিয়ে থাকতে দেখে ও বললো, “দেখ দেখ, এ হল এখনকার নতুন স্টাইল স্টেটমেন্ট; মুন-স্ট্যাম্প আইলাইনার দিয়ে এঁকেছি এগুলো !!”

আমি যেন থতমত ভাবটা তখনও কাটিয়ে উঠতে পারিনি, আচ্ছা আমার তো সবাইকে চমকে দেওয়ার কথা ছিল, আমি কেন চমকে যাচ্ছি ! হালকা হেসে বলি, “তুই মনে হয় আমার দিকে ভাল করে তাকাসনি এখনও”।

আমার কথা শুনে ও তাকায় আমার দিকে, এবার বেশ অনেকক্ষণ ধরে…আমি মুচকি হাসি।

“স্ট্যাম্প আইলাইনার বুঝি তুই একাই কিনতে পারিস, এই দেখ আমার ব্র্যান্ড নিউ ষ্টার-স্ট্যাম্প আইলাইনার…এবার কি বলবি?”

“কিন্তু….”

মিষ্টি হেসে ওকে বলি, “তোর কাছে যা থাকতে পারে, তা তো অন্য কারো কাছেও থাকতে পারে, তাই না? অত ভেঙে পড়ার কিছু হয়নি।”

“দেখ দেখি বাকিদের তো এখনো পাত্তা নেই।” বলে ওঠে মৌমিতা। বুঝি প্রসঙ্গ ঘোরাতে চাইছে ও; আমি মনে মনে হাসি…আমি ওর থেকেও বেশি ঘেঁটে গেছি কিন্তু বাইরে স্বাভাবিক থাকি নয়তো আইলাইনার ঘেঁটে যাবে যে !    

ধীরে ধীরে আমাদের দিকে এগিয়ে আসে সৌমি, ঐশী, স্মিতাক্ষীরা।

“এতক্ষনে তোদের আসার সময় হল?”

“কি করব…সাজতে সাজতে দেরি হয়ে গেল।” খুব ঘাড় বেঁকিয়ে বলল ঐশী।

দেখি ঐশীও খুব মাঞ্জা দিয়ে সেজেছে, একটা সাদা শার্ট আর রঙিন জয়পুরি ধাঁচের ঘাগরা, তাতে আবার কাঁচের কাজ!

পাশ থেকে মৌমিতা ফিসফিসিয়ে বলে ওঠে, “ঐশীকে দেখ, গলায় কিসব গুজরাটি ট্যাটু, থুতনিতে সূর্য।”

“ওরে মৌমিতা ফিসফিসিয়ে কি বলছিস…দেখ দেখ, এসব সব স্ট্যাম্প আইলাইনারের কামাল! আমার থুতনিতে যে ছোট্ট সূর্যটা দেখছিস ওটা সান-স্ট্যাম্প আইলাইনার দিয়ে করেছি…আর গলায় যে একসারি ছোট ছোট ষ্টার দেখছিস ওটা ষ্টার-স্ট্যাম্প আইলাইনারের কাজ; একটা করে জাস্ট স্ট্যাম্প মেরেছি; আগে দেখেছিস কখনও?” ঐশী এমন ফর্মে কথাগুল ছুঁড়লো যেন ও মেরিলিন মনরো আর আমরা আতিপাতি। আমার খুব রাগ হল। ভাবছি ওকে গাড্ডায় ফেলি কি করে, দেখি আমার আগে সৌমিই সেই কাজটা করে দিল।
“আচ্ছা ঐশী, আমি তো দেখছি তুই একা নয়, জেনি আর মৌমিও তো স্ট্যাম্প আইলাইনার পরেছে!” সৌমি বলে ওঠে। আমরা দু’জন আত্মবিশ্বাসে ভোর করে ওর সামনে গিয়ে দাঁড়াই, “দেখো হিরোইন, আমরাও স্ট্যাম্প আইলাইনার লাগিয়েছি…কোনো বক্তব্য আছে?”

এবার কেঁদে ফেলার জোগাড় ঐশীর ! ওর কান্ড দেখে আমরা সবাই হো হো করে হেসে উঠি।
“আরে কাঁদিস না, কাঁদিস না, আইলাইনার সব ঘেঁটে ঘ হয়ে যাবে যে…” অনেক কষ্টে যখন আমরা ওকে শান্ত করলাম, তখন আর ঠাকুর দেখতে যাওয়ার সময় হাতে নেই; বৃষ্টি এসে গেছে প্রচন্ড জোরে ! অগত্যা, মণ্ডপেই গল্প জুড়লাম আমরা !!

আজ যখন ষ্টার-সান-মুন-হার্ট-বো-কিউপিড-অ্যারো আরও কতধরনের স্ট্যাম্প দেখি, সেসব দিনের কথা খুব মনে পড়ে।সেদিনের কথা আজ মনে পড়লে আমি খিলখিলিয়ে হেসে উঠি। সত্যি এই জন্যই বোধহয় লোকে বলে, “বাপেরও বাপ্ আছে”।।

©জয়ী

The shade of yellow

The afternoon was sunny. We fought with words and slayed each other with the swords of hatred and love. And you left never looking back, never giving a fig. Your yellow dress slowly mingled with other people walking in the busy street. I stood there, alone, motionless, broken and upset. I looked at the street lights, the crowd and felt the boisterous noises surrounding me. I found myself standing before a very famous café and people inside might be engaged either in small talks or heavy conversations. They might be enjoying their cappuccino or espresso. The lights inside the cafe were pale yellow. That very shade of yellow carries a color of frustration. I lit up a cigarette.

By chance, my eyes caught a couple inside the café; they were too adorable, intensely engrossed in each other, sipping the cold coffee from the same long glass. I felt bad…for myself, for my girlfriend and for our love.

Evening is the time when you are bound to be alone or sad. I tried to control myself, stop my tears, tried to look at other girls walking in stilettos and hotpants. I tried to avert myself from her thoughts. I lit up another cigarette. The smoldering fire was trying to calm me down. I remembered how many counters we shared. Again my eyes rolled into the cafe. The lights inside were still dim but slightly brighter than earlier due to the upcoming darkness. And finally it darkened. I decided to have something from the cafe and walked inside. The sweet creamy pastry seemed insipid to me and the milky coffee didn’t give me any charm. I ordered a cupcake. It came in a white dish; the cake topped with a little chocolate ball and a little candy floss. Surprisingly I enjoyed it like girls do. I enjoyed the cupcake as if she was with me. Slowly, the thought separation walked out of my head and I only thought of the still fresh memories. I remembered how much she loved the cupcakes.

I looked at the streets. A child was selling roses. Another child was busy selling balloons to a child sitting inside a car. I packed a box of cakes and went outside. The busy city walks around, rides bikes and cars never showing some love to the street children.

When I distributed the cakes among children I saw the café lights glowing in brightest shade of yellow.

©Joyee

A lot can happen over a plate of momo

They say, “A lot can happen over a cup of coffee”. I say, “A lot can happen over a plate of momo.” It is a story of a plate of hot piping momos and how it had become one of the good vibes of my life. My city was truly busy enjoying the sudden 9°C temperature; the crazy north winds shivered my bones, a multicolored muffler protected me from cold, a glass of hot ginger tea from a roadside tea stall gave me some comfort, the swarming crowd near Esplanade metro made me realize the presence of strenuous Monday and then, adventitiously you appeared before me when I just ordered a plate of chicken momo. God knows, why you had to come on the same stall to have the momos.

You are not my parallel, not my almost, not my ex, but something I can’t name. You looked at me whenever you got slightest opportunity, I even caught you smiling when I passed by on office corridor. Sadly, you never made any move to talk to me; probably you were happy just seeing me there just like people enjoy an elegant piece of art in a museum. I was stupid enough to believe, you were in love, in love with me; but I was so wrong.

“Hello Jinny” your sudden voice made me look at you; you are in a brownish yellow jacket and black jeans. You were looking really handsome.
“Hi” I responded slowly.
“How are you?”
This time I had to smile, “Like you care!” I felt some spots of guilt in your face as you looked at the billboards to avoid my intense gaze. A few minutes had passed without any words from any side. I patiently waited for the momos to come. I was astounded to realize we just talked for the first time.
“I do care…and stupid enough to realize things very late.”
I had to laugh at his words; a man calling himself stupid is a nice thing to watch.
“Thank God, you realized…sooner or later!” I sighed throwing my words; he too sighed. I saw a strange kind of pain in his eyes but soon he turned it into an awkward smile. Then, a comfortable silence clinged us into a nameless thread. Perhaps, time stood still for a while and we too. I didn’t feel uneasy; he didn’t feel any urge to look away. I didn’t notice when we both started having the mouth watering chicken momos.
“The momos are really delicious, aren’t they?” he said to break the silence. I just nodded. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want him know my helplessness, my loneliness. Probably he was eager to say ‘you look beautiful’, or ‘remember me’ or ‘let’s exchange the numbers’; I was eager to say, ‘let’s stay in touch’ or ‘let’s go for a walk’. Sadly, we ended up saying “goodbye”. We moved away without exchanging phone numbers, without looking back, with a constant effort to behave like a normal person. And once again head won over heart.

©Joyee

PALOMA AND ME

Some people enter into our lives to make us change the day we listen the doorbells or a very old melody. And quite often we change the way we see a rose or a bird. Paloma Lopez made me realize the beauty of roses in a new way.

I used to know rose as a flower, an emblem of love, a must-have for Valentine’s Day and to keep in your pocket to look cool or orthodox…whatever! I was walking alone nonchalantly to celebrate the cold winds and she adventitiously appeared before my eyes. I saw an woman in long, flared, flowery, floor-length skirt and a small top; her bun was adorned with fresh, aromatic red roses; she was dancing to the music of her street-musician fiancé or husband. She was a proper brunette with mesmerizing eyes. On seeing my messy look she just glowered and it took my breath away. Her lover kept of playing the Spanish music instrument, and she kept on dancing to its tune. I don’t know Spanish but their attitude confirmed, it was a really sad love note. I saw some greedy eyes devouring her but she was so easy and flowing.

The evening was pinkish, the city lights were yellowish and people who circled Paloma were in bluish dresses; she was like a true red rose in the street and everyone swarmed around her like honey-bees. When the dance stopped, I came to her and said “Hi.”

“Hola,” her eyes were curious.

“You look beautiful.”

“I know…anything else?”

“Where is your home?”

“Andalusia, Spain.”

“Nice to meet you,” I saw a hand coming for handshake; it is her husband. He is Sergio. I loved how protective he was to his wife. I got to know Andalusia, a province of Spain, is famous for cathedral, mosque and cuisine.
“Guess what, we both were theatre artists; sadly the theatre is now closed because of some legal issues and we don’t know anything else to earn our bread.” Sergio revealed; I saw his eyes glittered with teardrops; cautious Sergio didn’t let them fall.

I looked at Paloma, her eyes were also moist. Still, she tried to smile. She is so glorious even in minimal make-up; her sweet face, pouty red lips, lean waist, flared skirt made her a true rose. However, not all roses get what they deserve. Some stay in queen’s bouquet and some bedeck the traces of a harlot!

Before biding them a goodbye, once again I looked at her, her rose-donned bun, her brown locks and I thanked God for taking my breath away!

©Joyee

Story of my mascara

Diary of a mascara lover:

Quotes say, ‘Get yourself a man who will ruin your lipstick but not the mascara’. M stands for mascara and mascara stands for magic. Having a man who ruins mascara is not always a curse. You should not regret the things that once made you happier and your eyes darker!
I was almost seventeen at that time. While my friends were still busy with winged eyeliner, I associated myself with mascara for the first time. On a pleasant evening, when the city was not fully dark or not fully lit up, my first boyfriend Anish had gifted me a Maybelline Mascara! Seventeen is the time for many first things…first boyfriend, first tube of mascara and first heavy eyelids cause of crying! I was so happy with the gift that I started applying on my eyes right after buying. And Anish helped me doing so! My mascara coated eyes made him astonished. He said, “You look beautiful.”
Since then, mascara has become the inevitable unavoidable kit for my eyes.
Mom was really angry when she discovered mascara in my bag. She said, “You are still a child; you should not wear it now.” I said, “You are a grown up; still you never use it.” On that day, she scolded me a lot. I started hiding things from her.
I have spent hours looking my mascara coated eyelashes and thought “he would love me or not.” However, everything melts and wipes away after some time; and who doesn’t know that water makes mascara melt! Anish left the city for higher education. As a goodbye gift he had given me a Revlon mascara. I made my eyes more appealing with Covergirl mascara. My mascara rimmed eyes glazed many eyes. My fantasy for mascara didn’t fade away with his departure or with time. I cried a lot for him and covered my heavy eyelids with mascara so that no one knows what I did last night. I met someone who praised my fluffy eyes and messy look. Sometimes, a stranger comes into our lives to make us see ourselves in different light, in different eyes and different views. With time, he too bade a bye.
Today, I do wear mascara to make myself happy, not for someone to compliment. I too realized that men come and go, but mascara is forever. She is a genuine friend unlike men. When one says, “Mascara is like men, they run when you get little emotional”… I really get angry. Mascara can never be like men. And getting yourself a man who ruins mascara is not always a bad thing. You will cherish the memories and experiences. You will play and cry over the memories and one day you will get over it. Like a real queen you too will say, “I will not cry for you, my mascara is expensive.”

©Joyee