With the commencement of Navratri, how could my next blog not be dedicated to “Durga, the celebration of good over our own evils”?

I dedicate this blog to the “Durga-ness” and the “Durga-ism” in all.

Durga-ness like righteous-ness, firm-ness, sharp-ness, courageous-ness, resolute-ness, etc. and “Durgaism” like hero-ism, dynam(ic)-ism, etc.

Must admit that I was quite tempted to write this blog from a feminist’s perspective…after all there is so much one can write. I had worded around 20 lines to that effect, which I later backspaced. And am I delighted to have done that? Why, yes of course.

So, when I thought about what evil could imply in today’s world, I came up with a whole lot of descriptions – pettiness, selfishness, ego, basically any impediment whether in the shape of a thought or an action.

So let’s look at Durga as our own little triumphs over challenging situations that we face in our lives. And celebrating that triumph could be in any form, literally!

In my journey of life, I often meet people who inspire me. They knowingly and sometimes unknowingly become my “heroes” and sometimes the protagonists of my stories.

The Real Durga

She was more popular as XL (yes, Extra Large) … right from the neighbors in her chawl to her office colleagues, everyone called her XL. They had given her this peculiar nickname because she was tall and obese. Anyone who was introduced to her would be intimidated by her boisterous nature.

I almost fell off from my chair, when she introduced herself as Shanti…I could have easily accepted any other name for that face and body…. but “Shanti”?

In today’s modern world, that name had lost its previous popularity amidst Shwetas, Praachis, Nehas and many more such names.

And there was hardly anything “Shant” i about her. She gauged my expression and decided to explain.

“You see I was a total cry-baby as a baby and when I cried, all my neighbors in the chawl used to close their doors and kept it closed till I stopped. I was a total ‘Ashanti’. So during my naming ceremony, one of the old ladies in the chawl, poured in the advice to my parents that if they name me Shanti, maybe the name would have a calming effect on me. My parents had even done Putri Shanti Pooja when they did a Griha Shanti Pooja…can you believe it? The priest had concluded that there was some fault in my horoscope and only a Pooja could relieve their daughter of all the associated pains. You can call me XL…I am more used to it.” She said with a smile.

I was introduced to her through my sister. My sister shared that XL was married to Hemant who worked in a small jewelry shop. He suffered from epilepsy and whenever he got the attacks, he almost got bedridden for days together. It seemed Hemant used to work in an IT firm, but with the frequent health issue, he was asked to look elsewhere. Hemant was the only child of his parents just as XL was the only child of her parents. Both sets of parents were aged and had their own sets of medical problems. XL was like the breadwinner of both families.

“So what kind of work does she do?” I asked.

“Sales.”

I smiled.

“XL has reconstructed her house…I mean it’s a MHADA house, which was a single-storied house, she has added one more level to it. She has asked me to get you along for a Satya Narayan Pooja which she has organized at her place.”

“But…”

“No, buts…I will pick you up after I return from work, “said my sister.

I was unsure if I should be going at all. We had briefly met only once. But I was in India after 2 years and decided to give in to my sister’s request.

It was 7.30 pm and we left for XL’s house.

“They have been married for 15 years and are planning to adopt a child.” My sister shared.

When we reached the place, there were a lot of people dancing to a band party at the entrance.

“Must be XL’s!” joked my sister. “Everything about her is king-size and loud.”

I smiled and wondered if XL was also among them dancing.

We pushed through the crowd and entered a small house with some chairs kept near the door.

The door opened into a small living room space which had the most beautiful marble temple I had ever seen.

My sister shared, “Do you know she spent almost 10 lakhs of Indian Rupees for the interior decoration work.”

Just then someone patted her on the shoulder.

My sister turned around and I turned my gaze.

There stood a beautiful lady with an orchid flower behind her ear adorning long straight hair, so perfectly matching with the purple paithani sari she had worn. Our jaws opened and stayed in that state for at least 2 minutes.

There stood a very beautiful XL, who could give all the veteran Bollywood heroines like Asha Parekh a run for their money.

“Shanti” a voice called from inside.

She politely excused herself and went in. There was a Durga changing roles to suit the environment and situation.

I later complimented her and said she was looking very beautiful.

“Ask your sister. We spent 4 hours to get this particular shade of sari and the matching accessories.” There was a childlike excitement in her at that moment.

“This is the first time, I spent something on myself.” Her eyes got moist.

“We all deserve our own moments of happiness.” I hugged her as I said.

“In today’s world, where we are often in search of some respite while struggling with our every day’s madness, sometimes vanity becomes the much sought sanity.” She concluded.

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