A Day in Zoya’s Life

This post is part of the Chennai Bloggers Club’s CBC VIBGYOR BLOG TAG where some of us will write a post on the colours of VIBGYOR.

The colour theme for today’s post is RED.


Zoya Mukherjee woke up with a start. Everything seemed still and dark. As her eyes adjusted to the surroundings, she thought she could she could see a crack of dawn faintly spawning across the horizon. Zoya glanced at the red-colored digits on the clock placed on the bedside table that her mom had brought for her and Parth Mukherjee recently. “No more jhanjhat of struggling to see the time in those Marie Curie-invented radial dials”, she had said while handing the clock to Zoya. Zoya chuckled at the thought of the memory.

As she jerked awake from the past, Zoya glanced at her bedside clock again. 4.10 AM – of course, how could she not expect the dawn to crack at the time, for she was in the city that served the oldest mode of underground transit in India – the Metro, the city that sold juicy roshogullas at one-rupee per piece even today; located on Hooghly, the capital city of West Bengal – Kolkata.

Ten months into her marriage with Parth who was needless to say, a Bengali, Zoya had been waiting for this day. For today was the day she would be getting to witness it for the first time, the much anticipated and spoken about since her arrival at her in-laws, the Sharadiya Pujo, more simply known as Durga Puja. Today was the day when Durga after ten days of her stay will be reunited with her apne. Today was the day She would leave the city and be beckoned to return the next year. Today was the tenth day of the Maha Pujo – the day Goddess Durga is immersed into the holy waters.

The ritual of immersion, as a tradition, was always a dusky-early night affair. As the afternoon sun eclipsed further towards the West, Zoya could feel her mounting exciting pulse. The city blazing with color-blind brightness seemed to have a life of its own. Colorful lights adorned every nook and cranny of the street Zoya stayed in – spread across lamp posts, while a few carved out as idols heights of which seemed to touch the sky. A few others adorned the pandals – the bamboo-like structure that were Durga Maa’s abode during the ten days of her stay, before her immersion. You name it, and you had it!

As per the customs, Zoya donned into the traditional cream shadee bordered in red with golden zari work, ritually gifted to her by Parth. She retraced her maang twice with the red sindoor all the way until the middle of her scalp and tied her key in the red and golden-bordered pallu. Zoya wanted to leave no leaf unturned today, in her gesture to look like a near-perfect putrobodhu, daughter-in-law. Her Bengali Bangles, yet again the sign of a married woman hung elegantly loose near her wrists. There were two of them – Shankha, the white one carved out of sea shells and the plain one made of red corals, Pola. She admired herself in the mirror for a second and realized one last thing – she placed her empty forehead with a large and round red-colored bindi. Zoya joined her shaashuri, mother in law, who was downstairs already, waiting with a plateful of sindoor for sindoor khela. “Bishon shundor laagchhi. Looking very beautiful”, maa said. Zoya smiled in response.

They stepped out onto the streets to join the procession of ladies who had already infected the environment with the celebrations. The low sound made by tongues placed in between the lips, gelled with the constantly rung bells and rhythmic beats of the dhak. Women laughed hysterically, a few frenzied by Maa Kaali’s presence already, while the others in the mood to celebrate the festivity no less than a carnival.

Zoya noticed every lady just like her and maa was decked in the same cream and red-bordered sari and carried with them a plate of sindoor. Once a part of the thick procession, the ladies played sindoor khela, yet another custom, where they strewn the women and streets with the red powder. There was no sense of apna and paraaya, as they all had united for a common purpose today.

As Zoya looked around taking in the surroundings, she saw Her.

Heading, amongst the crowd of women that seemed never-ending, was the ornately carved effigy heading towards Zoya. Zoya at once took in the ferociousness of Her eyes, that seemed so real despite the fact that it was just a statue, a painting by a downtown artiste, and yet they seemed radiantly alive. Wrapped and coated in a red-based attire across Her body, with Her hands spread widely starting from the waist to the top of the open haired-head, Maa Durga looked ragingly beautiful with her red tongue sticking out, slowly making way towards Zoya. The rhythmic beats of the dhak increased, so did Durga Maa’s proximity to Zoya.

The celebration noise started seeming distant and muffled, as Zoya’s eyes focused on Durga’s. She was the strong, the ferocious one. She was one of those bold women, who could command power just by the look in her eyes. She was the one known for her valor and bravery who symbolized victory of Good over Evil – the one who had killed the demon, Mahishasur.

Zoya felt Durga’s eyes boring into hers. As She neared at an arm-length from Zoya, one of the ladies in the procession tripped, her elbow bumping against the backside of Zoya’s head. Zoya lost her balance, but saved herself from falling completely. As she got up, she touched her head, where she had felt something when the lady had tripped. She saw her hands covered with sindoor. She looked up and smiled. Durga Maa had moved on, only to be beckoned to return the next year, as she blessed with Zoya with red.



Disclaimer: This blog is purely the thoughts of the writer, unintended to hurt anyone’s sentiments, cultural beliefs, and values. The thoughts and incidents established herein are a combination of facts and fiction.

6 thoughts on “A Day in Zoya’s Life

  1. I believe there are subtle messages hidden within your post. 🙂 I felt transported to Bengal throughout your post, I have 4 Bengalis in my office team, and the way you have described the magical festival, is exactly how they explained Durga Puja to me.
    The way you describe Kali is beyond amazing. I could feel the fire, her courage, her valor.
    An epitome of the perfect female.
    Is there a hidden significance to Zoya falling over, and rising up to find her head covered with sindoor, or is it a mere incident that happened? I have been trying to understand a hidden meaning, but, unable to do so. Pray, throw some light!


    1. Ah! You got my mind ticking yet again Vishnu! Trust me, this by far, has been the toughest post that I found – not just the writing, but the editing, copyediting, stroryline..you name it! I stayed in Kolkata for about 8 months, and that’s been my only experience of Durga Puja so far. Yet, that memory seems so alive!
      While writing this post, I did have many thoughts criss-crossing, and I wanted to put them all without making it too long/ boring. So, you’re right, there ARE subtle messages within 🙂
      Again I wanted Kaali to be the prominence, the main correlation with the color. Could totally visualize her (for some reason) when I wrote those lines. You’re right again. There is a hidden correlation to Zoya’s tripping and being blessed by Durga, esp. at the time when Zoya’s head was on the ground. However, what “exactly” happened when she tripped – possibilities are endless 🙂
      Glad that you like the post!


Your thoughts will lend me a smile :)

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