I remember as a young girl
Filling up with excitement
At the thought of going to a mela:
Fair, fête, fiesta, carnival, mela.
Standing in the ticket line
I vividly recall the sadness of
Costing more to my mother
When I went from being
"Child" to "Adult".
And rolled her eyes
In a way that sighed,
"You can't be serious, Suparna,
But you're welcome."
Mehendi was the obvious
But esoteric treat.
Henna filled hands were
An infrequent source of excitement.
Then, depending on the season,
Butta, corn smoked on an open chula
Coddled and loved on with
Lemon juice, chilli powder, and efficiency
Shakarganji ka chaat,
Sweet potatoes roasted in a closed fire pit
Also smothered with the same loving
Mouth-watering lip-smack inducing ingredients.
Then, we walked in-
Agenda-less, open to possibilities
Of colors, choices, sounds, patterns
Hand-made or mass-produced.
Actually, I can't say sans agenda
Because I knew tender and perfectly steamed momos from the Tibetan or Arunachal Pradesh stalls would quell
But my favorite part,
That I miss most,
Was the bargaining-
Haggling for the most satisfactory price
Pleading with "bhaiyyas" and "didis" and quoting
The best boni ka time prices
Always left me feeling
I wondered as I walked in to the entrance
Of the mela
What would I find today?
Which kantha sari would I get to smell
Which bangles would I get to make music with
And how many momos would I get to enjoy
Today was one such day.
Though I was eons away from Dili Haat,
I dunked two pretzels into dips
Laid out by the Dip Man.
I was healed by magnetic stone necklaces.
I breathed in aromas of artisan soaps.
I head-banged to music played by Dan.
I muddied my feet and washed them off in the rain.
And I went to a mela again.