"Ma, Ma, Maaaa", there was frantic rapping on the door, a heavy, ornate, teak affair , showing signs of age. The paint was peeling off around the middle but you knew that this was a door which had seen good times and kids.
"Uff, this girl, she won't me let me do even one thing in peace," Dugga muttered, frantically clicking on the mouse, while scanning the screen in front of her with utmost concentration.
"And that nonsense of a guy I married. Shiva. No idea of family planning, no stable job, no investments, nothing. Just went ahead and had four kids. Did he even once stop to think that five flight tickets to Kolkata every year would cost more than his five year's worth of pot?"
Her grumbling was interrupted by the phone which set off ringing in a jarring conch shell tone.
"Oshur, Mohisashur. Can you pick the phone ? This Oshur is an absolute lazy bummer. I must have been out of my mind to hire him as secretary. Should have killed him right there at the Pandal." Dugga grumbled.
Seeing no signs of Oshur, she extended her fourth hand on the right to pick up the phone. It is not as simple as it sounds though. Weaving through her three other hands and flowing tresses to get the phone to the ear was a task in itself.
"Hello? Ke bolchen?", Dugga said, her voice calm and polite like the lady at the T-Mobile Call Center.
A far off voice, anxious and tense, came over the airwaves -- "Ma, Ma. I am Mrs.Sen from Baguihati. You are our savior Ma. Only you can help me from my suffering.My son is in Singapore Ma and he says, I have to send a sari for his Malaysian girlfriend. What to buy Ma ? Too many choices these days. Chiffon, georgette, dhakai, silk is all I know. But now they say Satya Paul, Mora, Sabyasachi. How do I choose Ma? What if my son does not like what I send ?"
"Aa molo jaa, jotto shob. Baba Mortyobasi earthling, I have enough troubles of my own to sort first.I haven't been able to book my tickets yet and it is already Mahalaya. MakeMyTrip.com is giving me the cheapest fare via Sierra Leone. Do you know what that means ? What if my Karthik gets ebola and doesn't make it. Well, he will not be missed exactly. But what will happen if Oshur is infected ? Do you understand that kids will not even come to the pandal without him and Tanishq will not sponsor a single gold necklace? But no, you will not think of my troubles. All you are interested is in your son, family and saree. Haven't I told you umpteen times that all of this is just Maya."
"Maya? Ma, Maya Saree? Now that you have given me wisdom, that is the one I will buy Ma. Joi Ma Durga", said Mrs.Sen, from Baguihati
Dugga banged down the phone in frustration and looked back at the screen.
"Maaaa, open the door," the whiny voice outside the door got louder."Have to ask you something?"
"What is it now Lokkhi ? Can you not be on your own for even a minute? Told you I am working."
Lokkhi managed to open the door somehow and entered the study in spite of her Mother's ire. A pair of low cut jeans hugged her bottom and molded her shapely legs.
"Maa, do you think I look fat ?" she asked. Her hands at her waist, one leg in front of the other, her face tilted slightly upwards, she tried to pose like Alia Bhatt.
"Nope", said Mother without taking her eye off the screen.
Lokkhi pouted and swiveled this way and that.
A melodious, tinkling laughter came from behind the huge couch. There was Saraswati, snuggled in a corner,the latest best seller "Fault in our Stars" in hand.
"You know that you cannot pack that for our trip, right?" Saro said.
"Maaa, I can't take my new pair of jeans??? Really ??? Aren't we going to stop over at the France?" Lokkhi looked visible worried.
"No France baby. Too expensive. Looks like Air India is our only option. Go pack some nice sari" said Dugga.
"But Kol people wear jeans Ma. And even dresses. Minis too. Why can't I? I look fat in sari, " wailed Lokkhi
"Whatever," Saraswati said, "Kol people might like your jeans Di but not the Kol Police".
"Haah, easy for you to say. You are so fair. Those folks will not even see what you are wearing just because you are so white," Lokkhi grumbled.
"You are so clueless Di.Have you even heard of the Dark is Beautiful campaign? No one wants to be fair anymore Soon they will market a cream called Dark n Lovely. "
"That is just what the antel people are doing. When I go to Liluah and Baanshdroni, they put up the Fair & Lovely ad right in front of my face. And then they say my complexion is wheatish."
"Uff come on Lokkhi. You are supposed to be Goddess of wealth.Have some confi, mortyovasis will always like you. They love money even more than the tube of Fair & Lovely."
"Wealth? You make me laugh Saraswati. I don't even have a job. What wealth do I have?"
"Arre you don't have to like really "have" it. Just post a pic on Facebook with the latest BMW na and they will all like it and think you are rich. It is all in the mind, you see. And besides that, it is high time you got a job."
"Girls, can you just stop your jabbering. Did you see the news ? At Sreebhumi pandal they will make me wear diamonds and we will each get our own bodyguard. And in Ekdalia, it is all that gold again by Tanishq", Dugga exclaimed.
"Really Ma ? Really? Can I wear some too? Hope I get Salman Khan for my bodyguard", Lokkhi squealed. Her sorrow over sari forgotten.
Saro rolled her eyes and went back to her book. Kartik strolled in, hoping to make his case, amidst his sister's conversation.
"But hey Mom, what about me? Why do I have to be still bare chested and all? You know all that waxing really hurts.And then they make fun of me, compares my tummy with SRK's six packs.I am going to wear my T-shirt this time. And remember none of those naru, sondesh for me. I am on a diet. I will make do with egg Roll and biriyani."
'Baba Kartik, do whatever you want. Honestly no one cares. I would have left you with your Dad and saved on a ticket but the organizers want some kind of symmetry on both my sides so have to take you."
"Hrmmmph, you always always ignore me.You never loved me in the first place. Always you and Dad are partial to Ganesh", Kartik stomped his feet and looked like he would burst into tears.
"And you love Lokkhi more than me too. I am the one who has to do all the studying and play the veena and practice my singing, while all Lokkhi does is paints nails and watches MTV. Not fair Ma", Saraswati joined in.
"Seriously can we have some peace here ? I have just come back from nine days of brain numbing Yo Yo Honey Singh and I have to go back there again. Do you even understand what I am going through ?" wise Ganesha strolled in, his belly fatter than what it was two months back.
"Yes, yes, we all know, nine days of modaks and laddoos are showing their signs Dada. You better sign up for the gym fast."
"Hey Kartik, don't act smart with me ok ? I don't complain because I know that Ma has to run this family and the moolah comes from our annual tours. But seriously these earthlings are getting on my nerves. They invite us and then expect us to kow tow to all their wishes. We cannot just continue to do things we don't like because the society says so"
"Baba Ganesh, what exactly do you want to say? Your mouse is giving me enough trouble and at this age all this online booking is driving me crazy. Given a choice I would have gone to Mars on vacation than the Earth."
"Well Ma, I mean if Lokkhi wants to wear her jeans, let her, it is okay. #hokkolorob. And Karthik doesn't always need to be bare chested, it is high time you realize that he is no match to Sallu. Even Tollywood has Parombroto these days. Saro, if you don't want to play the veena and do rap, go ahead but think wisely before you give up on it. And finally Ma, I think it is high time you decide what you want to do with Baba. A irresponsible , crazy guy like that doesn't deserve you. I think you should just move out."
"And also Ma, can you just stop hankering for diamonds and gold.Have you forgotten the fragrance of garlands made of the orange stalked shiuli?"
Dugga, Lokkhi, Kartik and Saro stared, their mouth agape and their eyes wide.
Finally Dugga said, "Baba Ganesh, no doubt they call you Siddhidata.Tell those organizers at Ekdalia, I am boycotting pandals with diamond and gold. Karthik, go find where they have made garlands of shiuli picked before the first sun's ray touches them. I will stand there where the kaash phool sways in the autumn breeze under the azure blue Sharat akash. If I am going to Earth on my vacation, it better be in my terms.And when we are back next week, get me a lawyer Ganesh will ya?"
"I think I will keep playing the Veena," murmured Saraswati.
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