I've been heartbroken before, but this is differently shattering. I never imagined a strong bond could be severed this way, but the zaalim zamana has managed to play the villain yet again.
So, after years of carrying distinctly romantic feelings for Saawan (Shrawan), I am forced to feel mortified for a good part of the lunar month and especially on Mondays.
My romance with Saawan did not start just because it is the originating word for the name my poetic father gave me when I was born on first day of the month according to the Bengali calendar.
It was all about the season that the month indicates - the all reviving rains. Right from the 'kagaz ki kashtis' floated in the not so clean gully streamlets that the roads turned in front of my childhood home to listening soulful rendition of 'barsan laagi saawan bundiyan raaja' by Ghulam Ali sitting in my balcony with a cup of coffee on a rainy evening - Saawan always carried that special magic for me.
Like the proverbial 'andha' it made me think and see all 'hara hi hara'.
Over last few years however, another 'hara' (green) has made me dread the arrival of Saawan though I still welcome the rains wholeheartedly.
The 'Hara' that dominates the spirit of the month, at least in the region that I live in, is generally about the vegetarianism and specifically about fasting on Saawan Somwars (Mondays).
Around here, as a Hindu I am supposed to be refraining from non-vegetarian food during Saawan and as a female to be fasting on the somwars. I, however, am a totally unprejudiced foodie, who enjoys her portion of good food during all seasons and for all reasons, I naturally tend to lose the sense of date and time when I crave or see a culinary delicacy.
But the self-styled keepers of culture and traditions won't let me snooze on this. "You have purchased eggs during Saawan?" a clearly horrified neighbor asked me recently when she saw me carrying the telltale shapes in the telltale black polythene bag (strictly reserved for carrying non-vegetarian raw stuff in this region).
I tried to look properly ashamed as I told her that as a Bengali family we had never practiced such food restrictions and that we eat best of non-vegetarian food even during the general fasting days of Navratri (Durga Puja for us). She was shocked to say the least.
Last Monday when I visited a food joint with colleagues and one of my female colleagues sought cold coffee without chocolate as she was fasting, the lady on counter immediately turned to me and asked "you would have the same too?". No thanks, I said, I would have it full of chocolate.
Although sometimes I feel I would be better off fasting on saawan somwars given the menu that I see the fasters enjoying -- "Kuttu key aate ki puri, aaloo ki sabzi sondhe namak wali, sabudaane ki khichdi, saabudana wada, bhagar ki khichree, Upwas ka chiwda/mixture, aaloo ka halwa, sabudane ki kheer…" and what not all with huge dollops of desi ghee.
However, I tend to forget the day and date conveniently and instead of the fasting delicacies, end up digesting odd looks on my food plate and dreadfully polite questions on my fasting status.
The romance of Saawan is all but lost.
(Views expressed by author are personal)