I can’t remember when this puja began in our neighborhood. Sometime during Dashain and it’s still going strong. By now , I’m used to this man’s voice blasting through the speakers. I can’t see where the puja is happening from our house but I can hear the man’s voice loud and clear, especially when he shouts ‘Radhe Radhe’ with such energy, at the end of every other sentence in the bhajan. He sings and speaks all day long!!! He’s still singing right now. I can hear the harmonium and the madal too. And he’s singing – Radhe, radhe, radhe, radhe, radhe, Jai Radhe!!! Radhe Radhe..Radhe Radhe….and so on and on and on, in different pitches and tempos. It’s 8:15 PM right now! He started out early in the morning.
Occasionally, his singing is interrupted by someone’s loud drums. Someone out there or some group is, I guess, practicing for Deusi/Bhailo.
I never missed Bhailo as a kid..well, even till the end of my teens..I went to play bhailo with friends from my neighborhood or with my brother. I used to feel highly accomplished because of the money we’d make. Well, usually I’d get around 250 Rupees at the end of the night and I’d be very happy about it hahaha…when i was little we had a group of some 7 to 10 girls, most of them were older than me. We used to have a lot of fun..carrying the old cassette player with Tiger batteries in them…all prepared for load shedding hahahahaha…munching on sel rotis on the way. We mostly stuck to our tole and went to houses of people we knew but once, we ventured till chakrapath too and then came back home around midnight. At that time, midnight was very very late for me.
But of course, things changed during the emergency period and blah blah blah blah…and then everybody, friends and didis of our bhailo toli, except for me, have gotten married and have moved out of chandol…now, i don’t even know the name of the girl living in the house next door (to the left). They shifted in later and I hardly have any interaction with them. Except for some two weeks back…when I got locked out of our house (because everyone had gone out) and our dog , Pakku was going mad barking at me from inside. It was getting embarrassing for me to stand outside the gate, while trying to calm Pakku down. Sometimes, when he’s too excited, he barks like he’s going to spit his lungs out. It’s like he is howling, crying and barking at the same time. That’s when I went to the house next door and asked them if I could jump across our common wall and get inside our house. It was nice of them to let me in and do that.
I’d tried the house behind ours first, but realized that the wall was too tall from that side. It’s funny because I used to jump across the back wall as a kid to go to our neighbor’s. We had stones and bricks stacked up to make the climb easier. I guess, I still had that in mind and thought that I could do the same…hmm, but those stacks aren’t there anymore, neither in our side nor in theirs .
When I stop to look around and think, I realize that a lot has changed in our neighborhood since I was a kid. Sometimes, I wish I could go back to those dusty unpitched roads, make holes in them, and play marbles with my brother even though I was horrible at it…