Often, Anumita forgot to join her palms in prayers. It was more of a discussion rather than a prayer. These talk sessions never failed. Here’s a candid account of her relationship with Ganesha, as a special feature. A Different Truths exclusive.
“Go tell Ganesha,” said Ma. I was five and was going to a new school. Living in Chennai (then Madras, as I still like to call it) my parents were ecstatic that I secured admission in Secret Heart High School at Thousand Lights. For me, the school looked like a city. I was sure I will get lost and never can come back home. My fears turned into nightmares and my parents were worried.
Few days before the first day of school, I blurted out between sobs and hiccups about my immense fear of being lost and forgotten in those huge acres of school. Ma seemed a bit less worried after hearing my reason for nightmares and the advice to confide in Ganesha was given.
Ma had a Ganesha made of black slate. She had bought it at Mahabalipuram. I always found this Ganesha’s face very happy and the smooth slate gave a twinkle in his eyes. It was a second nature for me to talk to Ganesha when Ma was doing her puja. I did not bother with the rest of the idols and pictures of Gods and Goddess Ma had. I was partial, and I liked it.
I sat down in front of the little idol and started talking. Often, I forgot to join my palms in prayers. It was more of a discussion rather than a prayer. These talk sessions never failed. So, my fears, troubles, happiness and even my expectations were always tied to “…go tell Ganesha.”
Fast-forward few more years, my Baba moved to Mumbai (Bombay, as it was known then). I joined him after I finished my graduation. During the month of September, I experienced the most spectacular festivity, Ganesh Utsava. I had never seen such humongous idols of Ganesha before. These huge idols were not worshipped, a smaller Ganesha was placed in front and worshipped. The apartment complex where we lived had their own puja. Every morning and evening, of those ten days, there were arati and bhog. I learned the different names of Ganesha and many of his stories. But, for me, Ganesha was my pal, the only entity that listened to me.
In a few years, my wedding was arranged and I wanted to carry Ma’s black Ganesha with me to my new house. I needed an ally there. Ma was not ready to part with her Ganesha, so she got for me, my little Ganesha made of silver. Wrapped in a silk cloth I carried my little friend in my purse to my new home.
With all the duties in the new role and the new family, my little Ganesha got ignored and forgotten.
Passage of time brought me to that point where I was to be a mother. Pregnant with my first child, I hit the first major speed bump. I was diagnosed with hypertension and water retention. I was swollen like a sponge filled with water and pressure medications were not effective. Sad and worried, I decided to clean up my cupboard.
From an old purse, I found few old pictures and my little Ganesha wrapped in silk cloth. My lips curled up and few drops of tears fell on the silver tusk of Ganesha. Feeling guilty of not taking care of Ganesha and not talking to him, I clutched him to my chest and wept for a while. That evening I placed him on the little study table beside my bed and my daily conversation started.
The night before I delivered my boy, I had a dream of my little Ganesha smiling and telling me everything will be fine.
Motherhood, moving to two different countries and tons of other ups and down of life again drifted me away from Ganesha, once again.
Now. I live in the USA. The first time I went to visit my parents back in India, was such a mixture of sadness and happiness. I know my life and children are here in the US, but my parents are there in India. Every visit broke my heart. The day I came back I wept like a child.
Just like when I was a little girl, my Ma got Ganesha back into my life. On the day, I was loading my suitcases into the waiting cab, ma opened my palm and put a smooth cool object into it.
“Believe in your strength and the connection you have with Ganesha. Tell him your worries and he will take care,” said Ma.
Looking down at my palm I blinked the tears and there lay a multi-colored Ganesha. He travels with me to every corner of the world I go. Whenever uncertainty or worry wander near me, I let my fingers slip into the purse and touch the metal, and I know everything will work out.
My Ganesha is my hope. I wish to transfer this hope into my children, so they can have Ganesha as their friend for life.
©Anumita Chatterjee Roy
Photos by author
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