Durga Puja is coming, and so are the memories of my grandfather. I lost him to a brain tumor this year. In 2004, I had visited India and stayed with him during Durga Puja and it was a fantastic experience.
My Dadun was a forgetful, yet loving, man, but he never forgot about us. He would get up early in the morning for a walk. He did this every day, to stay healthy. On his way back, he would purchase many sweetmeats and mangoes from the local bazaar, because my brother and I love Indian mangoes. He would also invite us to lie down with him a little before bedtime, and tell us many stories in Bangla. I never felt more content than that, lying at his side and hearing his soft voice narrate.
Dadun was a man of great talents. By profession, he was an aeronautical engineer. At heart, though, he was an artist. He became more festive during Durga Puja. I remember, the first day of the puja was loud! There were many drums and loud pop music playing, and the smell of Dhunochi hung in the air. Even though it was sweltering hot, all the children in the apartment (for my grandparents lived in a flat in Kolkata) were running about playing active games. The local caterer prepared delectable meals for all, while the temple gave out free Prasad. And everyone danced, including my Dadun! One of my newfound acquaintances, affectionately called Bittu, danced until his socks were worn through. Even I, a profound lazybones, could not help but join in.
This year’s Puja will be a bit tamer for me, the foremost reason being that most Americans would not like to be awakened at 6:00 in the morning by foreign drums, to see crowds of Desis celebrating in the streets. Yet I will still remember the queer, knee shaking dance of my Dadun in the morning light, as the drums and music play. He will also be remembered in the music, singing and fine arts…
I have a grandfather.
His name is Asesh. Asesh Dasgupta.
He makes jokes. He likes dill pickles. He likes to sleep.
One day, he had a brain tumor. He went to the hospital.
I talked with him before the surgery, and played him some piano. He liked it. Then, he had the operation.
He was fine, after.
Then, one day, I find out
I had a grandfather.
His name was Asesh. Asesh Dasgupta.
He made jokes. He liked dill pickles. He liked to sleep. One day, he got to sleep forever.
I wonder if there are pickles in heaven.