A Quiet Celebration.
[words and picture - Nirmala Mayur Patil]
I wake up in the morning and outside, a New Year is born. With a newborn sun beaming in a new sky. Unlike before as a young adult when this day felt grandiose, to me now as someone stepping into her forties, this first, fresh day of the year feels like a quiet celebration. A celebration that is born of my relationship with the many New Years that have come, grown old with me and departed. Only to return, dressed as new - A New Year. That, which is both age-old and forever new - like me and everything around me.
So I celebrate quietly, this new sky, its light, the air, this new trembling in the leaves of trees and the new song they are singing.
I celebrate my seventy one-year-old Ma on her birthday, when she receives her favourite chocolate from my nine-year-old daughter as a present. The moment, like a drop of nectar between a grandmother and her granddaughter. Its sweetness reversing the aged and the young. When I bring out my camera to capture them together, Ma’s wrinkled face is twinkling child-like with a merry smile and my daughter is busy fixing her nani’s pallu.
I celebrate an old friendship that takes new and newer breaths when my childhood friend comes to visit me after fourteen years, bringing with her - her new self and her young daughter. We sit around the table eating home-cooked meals, wander the old lanes of my new city, and stay up late into the nights talking; catching-up on years spent apart and recalling memories. All the while, alongside us, a new friendship buds between both our daughters, who spend every single minute of a week-long stay frolicking together. And on the night they left for their home, my daughter cried in my arms listing all the things that will remind her of her new friend. I held her closer; my tears streaming down her cheeks. Our friendship with its deep old roots had sprouted a tender, new stalk.
Another new friend on Instagram, sends me a recording of her reciting Rūmī. As I listen again and again to her new voice uttering his old, familiar words, his ancient poem becomes our new meeting place. An unsaid celebration!
I celebrate our old home that I am slowly beginning to fill into cardboard boxes. All the curtains sun-faded from these tall windows, books that have pressed between their pages the flowers and foliage we gathered from the garden downstairs, our dear kitten sisters whom we first welcomed eight-months-ago into this very house, and plants green from drinking water from these taps everyday. Soon, we’ll find a new front door and inner walls to call ours. And one by one, the sealed boxes will burst open, letting our old home spill into the new.
I celebrate the six seasons that present themselves to me anew, year after year. The sweet-blossoming of neem flowers in Chaitra, the Khus-infused matke ka paani in Summers, the intoxication of Kohl dark clouds in Bhādra, the beautiful Śarad nights lit by earthen diyas, the fog-scented mornings in winter and the south-winds of Phālguna. Each season returns to my heart in all sorts of new forms.
In my balcony, a lone Madhukamini flower bloomed on the first day of the year. I brought it in and placed it on the table in an old brass bowl. A new, fragrant offering to my New Year. The first quiet celebration.