by Anwesha Mukherjee

Photo Credits: Rejaul Karim

It’s March. 

Spring is around the corner.

But this time, it feels different.

Today, memories unfurl like petals, each one carrying a season that painted my world in hues of innocence. Lost in the thoughts tapestry of Haldia’s spring, echoes of my childhood in my hometown in India come alive. 

Stumbling over the dew-laden grass in the park outside our house, my friends and I would run out of the house, gazing in awe at the flowering Krishnachura trees with their branches adorned with clusters of fiery blossoms. They seemed to be the guardians of seasons, the keepers of time, the heralds of the spring. As the sun filtered its rays through the foliage, the Haldia would be lit up in the bright morning glow. Occasionally, we would hear the early hums of the myna bird or the soft chirps of the shalik birds hidden amongst the leaves of the trees, adorning the gentle breeze with a subtle but lingering symphony.

Every evening, we would walk to the riverside. Each day at the bank of the Haldi Nadi felt nothing short of a sanctuary of magic, inviting us to revel in the spring breeze and the sight of the sunset. I can still distinctly feel the air of the riverside come alive with the aroma floating from the stalls where streetside vendors would roast corn to make our favourite bhutta. The sweet, smoky fragrance of charred maize would blend with the sizzling sounds of golden-brown fritters deep frying in hot oil. In the end, we would hold on to the crispy fritters wrapped in a newspaper bundle, add a sprinkle of lemon and salt on the bhutta, and savour the delicacies as we sat under the sunset canvas. It was a time when simple joys intertwined effortlessly with nature’s wonders, crafting a symposium that lingered like the fragrance of wildflowers.

The vibrant celebrations of Saraswati Puja marked springs in Bengal as every household venerated Goddess Saraswati—the goddess of knowledge, wisdom, and art. On this day, the sweet scent of incense would mingle with the beats of dhak drums. Draped in traditional yellow sarees, we would offer the goddess various flowers and tulsi leaves. I vividly remember my mother’s hand as she applied a streak of vermilion on my books, a symbolic ritual to infuse knowledge with divine grace. The typical mix of khichdi-labra-beguni for lunch, the myriad Rabindrasangeet songs played at every corner of the town, and the recitation of the aarti dedicated to Goddess Saraswati bring back memories tugging at my every heartstring.

Holi, the festival of colours, added an extra splash of joy to the season. Buckets of vibrant gulal, water balloons bursting with laughter, and the taste of sweet gujiyas lingered in the air long after the festivities ended. Laughter and glee of dozens of children echoed through the streets as we chased our friends with coloured powder in one hand and water guns in the other. With each splash of colour we threw at our friends and neighbours, a contagious euphoria captured the air. Holi didn’t just bring with it a riot of colours—it was in itself an everlasting kaleidoscope of cherished memories.

Now, standing amidst the memories, I find myself in Toronto, where spring unveils itself in a different guise. The crisp air and the promise of cherry blossoms mark a new chapter, a change that fills me with both nostalgia for my home and anticipation for the unknown. Yet, as I find myself eagerly embracing the onset of spring, I reflect on what the camaraderie of springtime in Haldia taught me. As we sprayed each other with bursts of coloured water on Holi, the playful chaos of smudged colours became a testament to the carefree abandonment of inhibitions. As we looked up at the Krishnachura trees, we immersed ourselves in the heralds of renewal and self-growth. And thus, as I nurture the fond memories my hometown cocooned me with, I keep a fresh slate, waiting to be written in. Carrying the essence of India’s spring intertwined with the promise of the unknown, I eagerly wait to internalize the spring Toronto has to offer. Whether it be the unfurling of High Park’s cherry blossoms or the burst of Krishnachura’s crimson blooms, I look forward to weaving a united thread of wonder across the panoramas, from the whispered meadows of Haldia’s tranquil pathways to the bustling dreams of Toronto’s cityscape. 

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