Monday Musings 244 - The Halloween Hungama
The other day as i was walking into my residential tower, a young boy of 8, a friend of my elder daughter, stops me and says “Uncle tomorrow is Halloween’’. I could not decipher his drift, if this was information or instruction and so i asked him ‘’Thanks but what do you want me to do’’. He gave me a deep look, i think it was a healthy blend of astonishment and disappointment, as if i had fallen a few notches in his eyes and then said ‘’I am just informing you – so that you should keep some chocolates for us when we visit you’’.
The residues of my middle class small mofussil upbringing warns me to be careful of boys who happen to be your daughters friends and who are trying to be too friendly to you but then effects of education takes over. I recognise that the boy is only 8 but you see one day he will grow up and i shall still be the girl’s father!
I came back with many thoughts after that brief encounter. I think the boy has vision. He is clear that he wants chocolates and he is also clears who he wants it from and he is giving an advance notice so that no ill prepared ignoramus father comes in way of his spoils.
Then i think of Halloween. I heard of it only three years back and for the first time came to know that it is almost a festival that children actually enjoy. I always thought it was something to scare – like demons or vampires. A little google research tells me about the origins of Halloween. What baffles me is why are we celebrating it here but then i keep my mouth shut or else i risk being clubbed with the rabid right wingers who i loathed when they said the same thing about valentine’s day and who are making hay these days because the sun is shining (is it hard to guess who is the sun?).
I find my reaction to this suspiciously close to the reaction of the parents to my generation when they first experienced their children’s growing fascination for Archie’s cards (which later expanded to Archies teddy bear and other assorted mushy things which helped the young ones proclaim their eternal undying love towards someone – which rarely lasted more than a sultry summer or an icy winter). Those parents never fathomed what was the fuss about these cards and why did we need one day in the year to let the mother, father aunt, brother, sister etc know that we loved them and i don’t understand the fuss about Halloween either. It is someone else’s festival rooted in someone else’s context – it means nothing to us. Now I perfectly understand what our parents went through during the peak of the Archie’s epidemic.
In its purest form Halloween is about entertaining ghosts and keeping them in good humour so that they do not play truant with our lives on earth. I am reminded of the tribal priest my grandmother used to call in Jharkhand when our cow did not return home in the night. The priest who was called ‘markondow’ or the learned one – would talk to ghosts and tell us that the cow will be found under this tree or that tree, behind this meadow or that. I found the whole practice quite funny or backward or unscientific or worse still very regressive. I wonder what i should call Halloween.
I gotta – i need to buy chocolates for the boy.