Durga Puja was right around the corner and the pandals were springing up everywhere. Stretches of fields were filled with Kans grass, as if clouds had descended upon the ground to see the idols in their making.

    Binoy noticed the scaffoldings beside his house with amazement while boarding his school bus, and he wondered who had built them and where those people always disappeared to after the festivity was over.

     School was like any other day. Once Binoy was home, he started his homework like all the ‘good children’ did. A few minutes later, he heard a knock on his door. "COMING!", he shouted as he hurried to open the door. Standing outside was a boy; around eleven years old.

    "My kite fell in your backyard", the boy said with a sheepish grin on his face. As he let him into the backyard to look for the kite, Binoy asked, "What's your name?"

    "Wasim!" he replied "And yours?".

    "I am Binoy. Hey! don't you work at that pandal?" he said pointing at the bamboo structures across the street.

    "Yes," Wasim replied.

    He saw what Binoy was eating and asked him what it was.

    "It's a doughnut", Binoy replied, "Want one?". Wasim hesitated at first but then took a bite. "It's very tasty!” he said happily, “Anyway, I think I should be going now. Thanks!"

    The next day, while on his way to school, Binoy noticed Wasim by the pandal and waved to him. Wasim waved back. This carried on for a few days and little by little, the two boys got to know more about each other.

    Wasim’s life wasn't exactly what one would call "luxurious". In fact, it was quite the opposite. Wasim lived in a village near the border of Bangladesh. His parents were fisher-folk and worked very hard to afford their meals. After Wasim had trusted Binoy enough, he confided to him that every year during the time of Durga Puja, they had contacts who helped them to cross the border and come to India. They had neither passport nor Visa.


    Once, Binoy casually asked Wasim why was he working on a Durga Puja Pandal even though he was Muslim. Wasim’s reply was equally casual; He offered his prayers every day religiously and his religious bent helped him in his art. Binoy went on contemplating after that day whether religion could unite people or divide.

    Finally, with the town dressed like a bride, the day of the Pujas arrived. The schools closed, the town drowned in the beats of the drums and dazzled in new illumination. They saw less of each other and Binoy almost forgot Wasim in the excitement. On the day of Dusshehra, winners of the Best Pandal Award were announced. Binoy came to know that the Pandal next to his house had won the second place. He then remembered Wasim. ‘Wasim is probably in Bangladesh by now ‘Binoy thought. He would never even know that his craftsmanship had won a prize, but he knew that though they would perhaps never meet again, Wasim had taught him something that the media, news, and textbooks could never have..




    Author : Prithvish Baidya

    Prithvish is a student of class eight. He is mostly a tech “geek” but sometimes the writer in him surfaces. Like every other engineering aspirant, he wants to get into an IIT or even better MIT. He'd often gaze into the stars and think about consciousness and life beyond the earth. He is inspired by the vastness of the universe and the fact that our entire solar system is a microscopic speck on the window of the ever-expanding universe blows his mind.


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