Here’s Tapati’s fictional Durga-Shiva dialogues, full of banter, repartee, wit, and humour, create a laughter riot, in the special feature. A Different Truths exclusive.
“Shiva seems too busy these days! Don’t know what’s going on behind the closed doors. Some meeting is going on, but such a long meeting; I need to check and keep things under control. Also, the time has come for my visit to earth. Should I leave him here or take him along!”
Durga knocked on the doors of the cave; the door was left open; everything was hazy inside under smoke.
“Oh, when he is going to stop smoking these rubbish… such a bad smell,” Durga sighed heavy holding her beautiful nose undercover.
“Inside someone murmured, ‘Mataji is here, Shiva ji,’ – sounded like Chitragupta’s voice?’ Shiva tried to spring up but with unstable feet fell on the tiger skin; Durga could make out that he is holding cross-legged position intact; inebriated followers tried to lift him; ‘but they don’t know the method, it is only me his ultimate prowess who can manage to stabilise him,’ Durga smiled.
Chitragupta nervously tried to clear the smoke and repeated his words, “Mataji is waiting at the doorsteps.”
“Why he has to call me with this pet name!” Durga was turning red, “It is time for your meal, my Lord.”
Shiva opened his eyes, ‘the same killing look he has retained! The red lotus eyes with depth were a matter the whole universe would pray for years to see.’
“Parvati, I am not able to tally the numbers of people in heaven; this fortnight people are rushing to earth for some handfuls of sacred water as if all divine rivers have dried up in heaven.” Shiva murmured, “This time, tell your father to send one supercomputer for me; the square plastic piece, some tablet, Kartik brought last year did not work in Kailash; once these thirsty men land on the soil of the earth, everyone becomes a latecomer, undisciplined. I can’t really blame Old Chitragupta to keep their account straight.” He continued, “Let me settle this issue first.”
Durga was in a mood to return but again the same call of Love, “Paro, here is a mail from your father. Take it with utmost care; this is your gate pass to earth. I had told him that you cannot stay for more than three days this time!”
Durga hurriedly opened the letter, ‘My Baba Himalaya is not all stone and mortar; he has a soft heart hence did not mention the days, so now it is an open invitation. What a big relief! Time has changed; last year people had started visiting the pandals from the Chaturthi day, when we had just landed and none of the children were ready with their make-up. Still, I must take my Lord’s permission for a longer stay this year, for almost eleven days – not sure it can be prolonged also; this year in Kolkata, some powerful lady has declared a delayed immersion – in that case…’
Durga shyly answered, “But my Lord, I am not worried for the days but about how do we travel this time; the land under my dear father is all flooded, in the east and in the west, both. Ganesh, my wise child was showing the photos of animals, trees, houses being carried away in the gush of water. Even all flights are running late or grounded in mud; how do we reach there on time, my Lord?”
“Why? What happened to your lion riding on which you killed the demon? Ok, my beloved wife, I give you few more options for your journey.
“Be careful to choose your ride since they indicate upheaval, natural disasters, wars and social unrest, leading to distress among mankind. First, let me explain the religious intricacies about the Vahanas(vehicles) and what do they symbolise.
“Elephant indicates peace and prosperity, so Maa Durga arriving or departing on this Vahana, would mean she’ll be filling everyone’s life with good deeds, blessings, results of hard work and happiness.
“Boat is a sign of water transport; it represents both flood and good harvest. Maa Durga arriving on this or leaving would mean she would bless with everything that one needs to reach his ultimate desire.
“Palanquin is represented by four men carrying a person on a haulier; here it means an outbreak of an epidemic. Maa Durga arriving or departing on this Vahana would interpret that unless, humans help each other and stand united, the upcoming epidemic would be their toughest journey.
“Horse as a Vahana represents destruction. So, if Goddess Durga is arriving on this mount, it’s a warning of an impending doom.
“So choose any one of these and it is granted. Please decide first, Paro.” Shiva is well known for his compassionate nature and charity; nobody can alter a boon once given by him. He took one more long drag on to continue the conversation.
‘Is it a new drama that Shiva is going to unfold? He is known as the Lord of dramatics!’ Durga looked at Shiva with suspicion.
“Boat will overturn; Palanquin is ruled out for the bearers are not ready to climb the mountain Kailash. An elephant will move to a direction he would love to go; I think the horse will be the right option, a fast and sturdy one.” Durga was ready with a prompt answer.
“Ok, granted, but take care of the aftermath.” Shiva took one more deep puff. “This is the root cause of his laziness, all the time either sitting with closed eyes in meditation or dancing out of ecstasy, never a normal being; after I return, I need to stop his supply of chillum… but now let me wisely plead for the extra days of stay. My Lord, this time, there is so much of rain, I should visit a few days early; and also will return late due to that nonchalant lady from Bengal!” Devi’s sweet voice cut through the heart of Shiva…
“Who is this powerful lady to decide on your schedule?” Shiva enquired: “I am serious. How a worldly lady dares to dictate you, the Mother of the universe?”
‘Shiva’s anger is well known but this should not spoil our picnic’ – “I don’t know, Lord, maybe one of your devotees like the demons whom you generously distributed boons of immortality like freebies. At the end, I, your Durga had to fight and kill them; you behave extreme, either tender or violent. Also, you are very forgetful these days…. The effects of smoke!”
Shiva glanced at Durga, “Durga is annoyed. “Paro let me go for a bath after a long time; my whole body from head to toe is itching.” Shiva left scratching his webbed hair – Durga loves cleanliness and bathing is going to please her to cut short her stay on earth.
‘Shiva is still so handsome, especially after a bath and shave’ – Durga can’t stop looking at him while serving the food. ‘He has such a glowing fair skin but would apply ash all over the body. This time I will bring some good talcum powder and perfumes for the Lord.’ Shiva could sense her love and emotion; stealthily tried to take some advantage of her loving nature:
“Paro, who will serve me this delicious food once you go to your father’s place, this time for ten days?” Shiva loves her too much.
“Kaali will be here, my younger sister; though she is dark and stubborn, take care of her, she will manage few days, Shiva,” Durga said lovingly.
Shiva’s both eyes opened wide with the name of Kali. “I am scared of her; Kali is so fierce; she does not have your tenderness and always in a fighting mood. I fear her sharp tongue. She trampled me to near death last year.” Shiva admitted he lost to a feminine power.
“Yes, I had to massage balm on your whole body. But after all, she is young. Don’t worry; I shall get a stronger balm this time. But, what happened to her clothes, Shiva? My sister was without any cloth!” Durga chuckled.
Shiva raised his both hands to prove his innocence, “Her luggage got misplaced and she realised bit late and stood over my head creating tantrum. I have no idea about the household where you keep clothing; I did not want her to share your saris, and those were used ones. I was helpless and went on tolerating her kicks and beatings.” Shiva dozed off after few more puffs
“Paro” – ‘Shiva is calling again – what happened? This is his naptime. What is it that he is calling my pet name for?’ Durga was embarrassed in front of her grown-up children.
“Is your packing done, Paro? I plan to reach the suitcase to your father’s place in advance; the weather there is very dirty”, Shiva sounded genuine.
“Not yet finished, my Lord; I am busy helping the daughters; Vishnu and Brahma, your two sons-in-law are useless; one is old and sitting in meditation forever, and the other one is so lazy that he prefers to sleep for time immemorial. They can’t help their wives.”
There is one more noisy commotion; Lakshmi and Saraswati are fighting over the colours of their saris; Saraswati wants white only in spite of the muddy pandals there and won’t listen to Lakshmi. Lakshmi insists on carrying all her jewellery, while Saraswati wants a modest dressing and advised Lakshmi, “Earth is no more a safe place, not even for the goddesses. Also, these days there is a hard competition of art and ladies are out with artificial jewellery. Why take so many luggage?”
“But these boxes of ornaments must be taken. Also, three sets of saris with matching ornaments and accessories for eleven days for each one will go. Maa, no compromise on looks!” Lakshmi declared.
“Your daughters are just opposite in nature; Saraswati can also choose the yellow colour, the bright colour of the flowers of the mustard plant. But she is stubborn like you. Unlike Lakshmi, she does not like to be adorned heavily with jewels, gold, and heavy silks, but dress up with simplicity.”
“What about the empty boxes?” Shiva asked.
“Oh, this year Ganesh informed that some people are decorating me with kilos of gold; in these empty boxes, I plan to carry it back instead of putting them down the drain… not drain – but the Ganga water is stinking and dirty; so I will not depart with the ornaments; I am fed up of being known as the wife of a poor beggar. Hope you don’t mind my dear?” After Daksha-yajna, Durga has become rational.
“Kilos of gold for your decoration? Paro, are you sure these are not meant as a display to the public, for their hidden agenda of publicity? People down there are cunning; they mean business more than devotion and worship!”
“No, no, Shivaji, they are my children and love me so much!” Durga pouted in her in her playful Lasya act, “Please ensure that Ganesh’s head is fixed properly; the poor kid has to bear a heavy head just because of you”, Parvati wiped her tears.
This was more than a strong rebuke to open Shiva’s divine eyes to remind the mess he had created and lived with this life-long shame for his uncontrolled anger: Once, while Parvati wanted to take a bath, there were no attendants around to guard her and stop anyone from accidentally entering the house. Hence she created an image of a boy out of turmeric paste which she prepared to cleanse her body and infused life into it, and thus Ganesha was born. Parvati ordered Ganesha not to allow anyone to enter the house, and Ganesha obediently followed his mother’s orders. After a while Shiva returned and tried to enter the house, Ganesha stopped him. Shiva was infuriated, lost his temper and severed the boy’s head with his trident. When Parvati came out and saw her son’s lifeless body, she was very angry. She demanded that Shiva restore Ganesha’s life at once. Shiva did so by attaching an elephant’s head to Ganesha’s body.
“These few boxes are filled with cosmetics for the ladies and perfumes for the boys. Kartik left Kailash for his penance and meditation and not yet back.” Parvati is very worried about his son fasting for so long. She confided with her husband, “This time Kartik wants to be on a milk diet, to avoid weight gain and maintain his warrior figure. I don’t know where from my devotees would arrange for pure milk this time! Cows are controversial there; the milk does not taste good!” The mother in Durga is becoming emotional.
Shiva lost a count of the boxes and came up with his great generosity, “Will I arrange to send milk from Kailash?”
“Instead can we take Nandini, the divine cow with us just for few days? Kartik loves to drink her milk.”
Shiva does not have many options, this one being a hot issue of child care on earth! By now he has started the urge of having his puff, a dose of relaxation; ‘let Parvati take care of her family and children’. He sat with his attendants and smoke to reach the highest pleasure.
In the evening, Durga fatigued over the day-long preparations came searching for Shiva.
“Shiva ji, this time I will leave on Mahalaya day.” She is annoyed with the excess puffing habit of Shiva. Durga’s voice pierced through his ears and Shiva crash-landed on real life, leaving his elevated bliss behind. But by now he has reinvigorated himself with clear thinking:
“Mahalaya? On this day the gates of both heaven and hell are opened to allow the ancestors to visit their worldly children to accept their offerings. There will be a mad rush and may end up in traffic jam also. All my attendants, including Nandi Bhringi, get busy to maintain the roll calls of who is going and who is returning. Even I don’t get my chillum on time. Who is going to protect you in this journey on Mahalaya day?” Shiva could not hide his anxiety.
“I don’t want your followers, Lord Shiva, they are drunkards, addicted. I don’t want any humiliation at my father’s home. Have you forgotten the episode of Sati? Can you come?” Durga is enraged. Shiva is helpless with all his past history and promised to accompany his wife to earth.
Durga on horse and Shiva on his bull started the journey. Four children are following at a distance; Kartik and Ganesh whispered: “This is the only time we get for some merry-making when young girls admire our looks; Maa is friendly but why to take baba to have watchful eyes on us! Disgusting! ”
Saraswati holding up her white sari above the knee and Lakshmi taking care of her makeup against heavy downpour on earth came running after Shiva to plead to stop the rains; but alas, he is on his happy mood puffing and balancing on the bull and following his wife. None of them are able to hear a single word. Now, they are ascending closing to earth; the rainy wind is buzzing around with thunders and lightning adding to the huge noise of conch, drums, and bands already filling the sky.
“Come, Maa Durga with your whole family,” – peoples’ prayer on earth have filled the air; it is a time for annual celebration, a festival that brings a smile of happiness for all; a time of homecoming and family reunion.
Photos from the Internet
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Tapati Sinha is educated from schooling to Post-Graduation from Visva-Bharati University with a Doctoral degree from Nagpur University in A.I.H.C.A. She loves Indian literature, Indian and world history and continues her personal research. She picks her subjects from various spheres including historical data, daily experiences of life and varied work places. Tapati is passionate to pursue her writings, novel, poetry, short stories on multifarious topics, past and present under the pen name Anjali.