The monks from Vrindavan arrived unannounced, saying they had been invited, but quitting all suspicion, my parents organised a grand worship
In these long and uncertain lockdown days, having done my self-imposed domestic chores, while I sit by myself, I take the fancy to fly on the wings of my imagination to dwell in my remote past days’ memories.
Thus, I derive immense pleasure as though, out of ruminating those anecdotes, as they exactly happened.
This was in the year 1953.
My father, a police officer, under the then Assam Government was posted in Karimganj police station, and we all were happily settled in a nice departmental accommodation there.
Our family consisted of us three sisters, all in our teens, a cousin brother of ours, parents and a domestic help, fondly called ,”Bhai“ by us.
One summer evening, we sisters were playing outside in the lawn, when I noticed two monks standing in front of our house, under a palm tree, placing a medium-size Radha-Krishna idol there.
Since other than we kids, no adult person was visible to them, they were not feeling comfortable, as though to ask us about the availability of my parents in the house.
Anyway I volunteered to ask in my childlike way if I could be of any help, to which older of the two monks asked about my parents.
I said that my Mom was the only person available at that point of time as my father was away in his office.
He heaved a sigh of relief and told me to call my mother forthwith, as they had come from far off Vrindavan on invitation from my father through a proxy letter.
When I made it to my Mom and briefed her in short, she briskly came to open the door in an apologetic, humble manner, with a blushing smile.
She made them feel comfortable by placing the idol in our altar room, albeit hesitantly, since she had not spoken to my father for his confirmation about such an ‘invitation’.
Let alone mobile phones, just normal telephones were very rare those days, even in the house of a police officer. So asking father’s permission could not be done easily.
Mother offered them some water and sweets. Bhai was rushed to inform our father and he soon reached home, fearing if some fraudsters had dared to create a drama.
Upon seeing my father in his police uniform and his strict demeanour, the monks started fumbling. Father wanted to see the proxy letter.
It was shown to him, wherein the sender’s name surprisingly matched with my cousin, a small school going student.
But the sender’s details did not tally at all.
He stated he was newly married and his wife was well cared for by his aunt (in this case, my mother), but was never allowed to come down from her room on the first floor for any chores or even for meals.
The problem with such details was that our house was a typically classical Assam-type one, which was only single-storied. There was no question of a ‘first floor’!
He further wrote that his uncle (my father) was a devotional man by nature (which he really was) and wanted very sincerely to invite the priests to visit him once, as early as possible, with the idol of the entwined Radha and Krishna.
The letter said that since father was a senior police officer, it would not be possible for him to visit Vrindavan, hence his request to them to visit his family quarters.
Now, my father was so amused that he laughed his heart out and pacified them saying that he felt rather obliged to that imposter who made it possible for him to offer puja and chanting of devotional Mohanam Songkirtonam to the reigning deities of Holy Vrindavan Dham.
Here, I take the pleasure of mentioning that my father was less of a cop, and more of a devotee, with a flair for singing devotional songs,a trait for which he was widely acclaimed.
So instantly, my father took leave from his office and made a fabulous arrangement of installing a temporary altar inside our premises.
Our neighbours uninvited and spontaneously came running that evening to our quarters, as soon as the puja was followed by father’s keertan.
My mother got herself busy with cooking khicdi, labra and payesh – vessel after vessel.
She realised that the crowd of devotees would await at our place overnight, till the end of keertan, and would leave only after taking bhog after the priests offered it to the deities.
I still vividly remember how in full enthusiasm and spirit my parents organised the puja, and it ended only when dawn broke.
The next day, having completed all the rituals, and after the monks were served lunch, they made their ways back to the railway station. My father carried back the idols in a sling bag, most respectfully.
Again a big crowd followed them in a procession with my father, and I, a small girl took the lead!
The train reached on time, and after the monks boarded it with the idols, when the Guard blew the whistle and waved his the green flag, I found my father sobbing.
In fact, everyone who had joined the procession to the station were in tears of devotion, as if bidding goodbye to a very dear one, and on seeing this, I too started wailing and squatted on the platform floor.
After we returned, our home wore such a gloomy look, with my mother constantly sobbing, that it took a couple of days to come back to normal.
To end this narrative, I would love to mention that although we didn’t stay in Karimganj for long, thanks to my father’s transferrable service conditions, the simplicity and friendly nature of the people there ‑and across the entire northeast in general –is just unparalleled!
What's Your Reaction?
Septuagenarian Purabi Sen, a retired Central Government employee from Shillong, (Meghalaya) now settled in Bangalore, has been passionate about penning poems, stories “or anything that catches my fancy”, as she says. Many of her creations were published in Bengali or English in different Durga Puja journals or magazines. Her book of Bengali poems, 'Orchid', was launched in 1997 from Kolkata Book fair.