[My latest book “Sultan of Delhi” is now available on Kindle outside the Indian sub-continental region]
“Let me go and offer puja”, the wife says pointing to the Durga idol to the right, up on the stage, “You can sit there, see if you know anyone.”
All married couples know this passage of play. It’s when one of the two makes the other do something that that person doesn’t want, and then compensates by backing off for a certain period of time afterwards. My wife knows I am not happy. I did not want to be here. Weekends are for reading books and watching movies, not for wearing kurta-pyjama that don’t really fit me in the way they were originally tailored, driving an hour, taking three exits, and then paying fifty dollars per person at the door for the dubious privilege of lunch, dinner and “cultural program”.
But it’s Pujo. Are we not going anywhere?
Even if that place is a high school rented for the weekend, and we don’t know anyone there.
So here we are.
“Well why don’t you go to Bangali Association meetings?” My wife had said on the drive here, chilly inside the car even though the heat was turned up high, “Then everyone would not be a stranger.”
I had simply gripped the steering wheel harder. I have been married for ten years. I know not to answer such questions.
“But you used to love Durga Pujo.”
I did. Back in Calcutta. When I had friends. When I could walk into a random pandal at any time of the day and most likely meet someone I knew, from school or college or from “coaching”, when the whole city was extended family.
Not now. Not in the US. Not any more.