Monday, October 12, 2015

Her Chariot on the Horizon

Tomorrow, Navratri begins: nine nights of celebrating the Goddess. It has always been my favorite of all festivals. Nothing gets my Gujarati blood going like a velvet full moon night, bright with promise of garba, and when the first dhol sounds, my feet fly away from my will. I love going for garba, sought it out wherever the roundel formed and only the dying music would stop my whirling.

Of course, the past couple of years has seen my body giving way to my kidney disease and even though I did not miss any more nights of garba than I absolutely had to, I could not dance a lot. I had to sit on the sidelines, watching people more fit give in to the music. I loved that too. There is no feeling better than being at garba.

This year, however, I will not be able to attend for more than a night or two, at the most. My dialysis needs 8 to 10 hours and if I have to reach work the following morning on time, I have to start my treatments before the garbas begin. I plan to go to the temple earlier in the evening and just bow to the Goddess, tell her that I would miss Her and that I'd be thinking of Her.

I can't stop thinking of Her, actually. All year, I would do enough cardio exercises, just so I could dance the garba. I went through Navratri days as though someone had switched on a light deep within me; I glowed and people thought I was in love.  My name for my daughter is no accident: I named her for the Goddess. There are times when I believe that the Goddess did descend within my daughter, especially when I see her insisting on her rights, fighting for what she thinks is fair. My child loved Navratri too. I would buy the pass to go for the large garba sponsored by IRCC, and loved every minute of it. One year, my child, who was in highschool, gathered her few friends and I bundled them into my car and took them dancing till dinner was served after aarti, after 2am. It remains one of my fondest memories of Navratri.

Tonight, I am working on calming myself: after all, I cannot attend the festivities this year, so I should not feel excited at the prospect. However, I cannot help it. I went through the day today, smelling sugar; I almost bought some incense; I stopped myself from a mental inventory of my chanya choli, the odhni scarves that might need ironing, my favorite earrings and bindis waiting since last year in the drawer. But then, I see the dialysis machine waiting on top of the drawer, patiently waiting for me to remember it, and I have to laugh.

I have had so many wonderful Navratri memories that I do not resent having to sit out a year or so. I wish that my child would find a roundel to whirl in during these magical nights, to unleash the Gujju that lurks in her. I know that she is very far and I can no longer see her whirling with unconscious grace, with her unique steps and dips.

Tomorrow, when I go to the Goddess, I will remember to ask her blessing for my child and grant her a roundel all her own, so that years from now, if her body cannot whirl any more, she remembers this year's magic and it warms her darkening year. 


  1. I see a short story here--with so many grace moments--perhaps alternating between the mother and the daughter telling a tale. I have a vision of the daughter finding a celebration far away, while the mother lights incense by the altar of the machinery that keeps her alive.

  2. OOOOH!!!! Thank you! Actually, I don't think it is fair that I write it; that's downright stealing. But I would LOVE to read a story like that!


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