Friday, January 27, 2012

Pangs of (Puppy) Love

A few days back, I was having a conversation with a couple of my friends about the phase of so called 'love' in our school life. And how things have evolved since then. I personally feel that I am growing old when we talk about 'our good old days'. But nevertheless, incidents and memories of things like that are so amusing that I feel those are definitely worth sharing.

Being a girl, I have always known the female version of puppy love in school. Back then, boys did not reveal their side of story nor we, girls, bothered. We were too amused to care by all the attention we got. After all these years, it is enlightening to know their side of the story.

I will just give a general account of incidents that usually happened during my school days. Let's take a random girl G and a random boy B. The backdrop is high school (Std. V to XII) in the late nineties.

Girls' Side of the Story:
It all started with teasing by friends. If the news flashed that B fell for G, her friends start teasing G immediately. After that G finds B following her or looking at her wherever she goes. Missed calls and blanks start coming at her home's land-line phone (Yes, that was the age of landlines). If G likes B, she enjoys the teasing and blushes. But if she doesn't she would get angry. Some of her friends and B's friends play the messengers, passing on gifts and verbal or written messages. There are others who play the role of adviser. The teasing and advice becomes so extreme that the G starts actually thinking that she too has fallen for B! And often G and some of her friends would find that they have received love letters with similar content and language. Some Gs just enjoy the attention and take it no further. Some enjoy the gifts along with the attention of B or Bs. And a very few took it further and actually start a relationship. Valentine's day meant gifts. And if she didn't like the guy, Rakshabandhan eve was available to turn him into a  brother!

Boys' Side of the Story:
B starts finding G cute or beautiful. Every way of hers felt dreamlike and likeable. He starts scribbling 'G+B' on the classroom desks, trees in the school compound and anywhere possible. B tells about his feelings to a friend or friends. His friends do the job of letting the news getting to G. G moves around in the school with her group of friends and so does he. So the entire boy group starts following the girl group in the school. Boys usually worked in a team in this. B and his team would plan and make strategies as to how to 'patao' G, which of G's friends could be made a messenger. One guy would be the letter writer while another with beautiful handwriting would be the final copywriter. A friend of mine even told stories of how chicken blood was used to write letter so that G would think that the B had used his own blood! What gift is to be gifted, what is to be said and the next course of action, all ideas were pooled in by every team member. Valentine's day was awaited while Rakshabandhan was dreaded. Some Bs even skipped school on the eve of Rakshabandhan. 

After G and B becomes 'G+B':
G has fallen for B too and message had been conveyed. Good wishes and cheers on both sides. But the news should not reach the teachers or any other school authorities. If it reaches, first school punishment and then guardians would be notified, which meant spanking and beating. Codes were made for making calls. Two or three (or with a combination of half ring) at G's place meant, it is B calling and she needs to wait by the phone. If the telephone's keypad is locked, then tricks to unlock it were formulated including duplicate keys. Dates were planned weeks ahead-- where to meet and at what time to meet. G was often accompanied by a friend and so B had to save money harder. Apart from that, stealing a few moments in a empty classroom or hallway here and there was all that they could have.

Mostly the incidents were a result of having a crush or infatuation. But looking back now, I feel that the emotions of all of it played a major role in our growing up (I have taken the liberty to call it 'our' instead of 'my' here). Several Gs and Bs who were not a  couple then are married today. While many couples have gone separate ways and few are married couples now. And there are others who are still drowned in the gloom of unrequited love. Whatever choices we made then or the emotions we went through are a part of us today. It was nothing but the innocent first step of our future relationships.

As a result of social evolution, school love affairs are common news today and all for wrong reasons. One student killing another or oneself because of a love triangle or unrequited love, couples committing suicide because of family opposition, students caught in school in compromising positions and objectionable MMS clippings being circulated. Apart from the gruesome side, I also know parents who are cool about their children's relationships and consider it healthy.They have accepted such relationships as a part of their child's growing up and this attitude is actually something to be appreciated.

Nonetheless, I personally feel that school love stories have lost their charm and innocence over the years. The magic of a glance or a smile has disappeared. Our pangs of puppy love and its course of action have become ancient as have our school days.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bhogali Memories

With Bhogali Bihu (a.k.a. Maghor Bihu) just around the corner, I can not help but reminisce about the innocent and lovely memories attached to it. Magh Bihu is the harvesting festival of Assam, which is celebrated in mid January. It is equivalent to the Bengali festival of Makar Sankranti. 'Bhog' means feast and 'Magh' is the harvesting month of the India calender, which starts mid-January. Traditionally, the villages' youth build makeshift huts with hay and bamboo in  the crop fields. The harvest feast takes place in this hut and the next morning, the hut is set on fire. This makeshift hut is called the 'meji'. Meji is also be made by just heaping bamboo and hay. During this festival, there is also a tradition of stealing vegetables and other eatables from the neighborhood and eating those on the night of feast. This festival is all about feasts and bonfires.

The fondest memories of the festival are my childhood celebrations. We resided in the Assam Agricultural University campus in Jorhat, Assam. The feast is usually organized colony-wise. There were only five quarters and so five families in our area. There is a long pond in the middle and three and two quarters respectively on either side. In the initial years, we just had the normal feast with the bonfire. The men would sit and chat around the fire. The women would cook in the garage, taking part and enjoy the warmth of the fire from time to time. The children would run around and play. Then we children decided that we would do something special on Magh bihu feast nights. 

I do not remember exactly how, but we decided to organize and perform a cultural programme. As the winter vacation started from December and schools reopened after the Bihu, we had plenty of time to prepare. We would prepare dances, chorus, songs and short plays (usually comedy). We would practice and prepare all vacation. It was so much fun. Finalizing songs, performances and costumes, we were busy all the time. The dancers would choreographed, the non-dancers prepared singing performances, with the older ones teaching the younger children. Every child had a role to play. We were about a dozen children.

Usually the middle house, of the side having three houses, was selected to have the feast. The front veranda would serve as the stage, the audience would sit on the lawn with the bonfire and the garage was the night's kitchen. To give professional effect, we used to have curtains also on the stage. Our cultural programme used to be the highlight of the evening. The function would start in the evening after everyone arrived, the bonfire was lit and our mothers could take a break from the cooking. Tea and snacks would be served in between. After the performances were over, we would all sit around the bonfire and chat. After the dinner, chats would continue long into the night. Happy voices and laughter would softly float through the winter air. It would be past midnight and our parents would still be talking and laughing. What happy times were those. 

And the next morning, after taking a reluctant bath, we would light up the meji and offer puja. It is said that after that day, the winter season wanes. After the meji burning, the families would often have breakfast also together, sitting in the winter morning sun.

As the years went by, the families went to different quarters and colonies, and we, the children, also grew up. So the function thing also came to an end. But the other colonies started having their children shows, in which the parents are also involved. Bhogali bihu feasts are not so much fun anymore. For me, it is all about spending time with my family now. My highlight of the evening is now barbequed chicken, on Deta (my father)-made sticks. This year I will be celebrating Maghor bihu with my folks in our ancestral town. But nothing can ever match the innocent happiness of my Bhogali memories from my childhood.

Monday, January 9, 2012

My Old Friend.. Loneliness

My old friend, loneliness...

You are there when I am happy;
And don't leave me when I feel crappy;

You keep me awake and don't let me sleep,
Yet watch over me when into dreams I slip;

While watching television, you sit with me
And when I have dinner, give me company;

You help me choose, when I shop,
And hold my hand while in a crowd;

You watch me smile and shy,
You say it's alright when the tears come by;

You have stood by me through thick and through thin,
When I have been generous and when I have been mean;

You have been a part of my past and  my present,
When the moon was full and when a crescent;

You have shared my joy and my sorrow,
But promise me you won't be there for all of my tomorrow...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Wordy Wait

Waiting for a few words, I fall asleep;
It's morning and I am still waiting..
The day goes by;
No hint, no reference..
The day ends, the wait is forgotten..
May be some other night, some other wait, they will come...