Come September and I would wait eagerly for the special editions of the magazines slated to be published during the festive season. These magazines, puja shonkhya, as they are known as, would take up majority of the time of my pre-pujo days.
It started with the special editions of the children like Anandamela, Sandesh, and Sukhtara with an occasional dose of Kishore Bharati. These were mostly adventure stories and comics aimed at the psyche of the growing child and they had wonderful authors who wove magic through their word imagery.
With age, I have graduated to the more commonly known Puja Shankya for the grown ups like Desh, Anandabazar , Patrika, Bartaman, and Anandalok ,too. Each year the newspaper vendor would deliver these by mid September and then on every free time between meetings or in the back seat of my car or Sundays would be spent in the joys of reading through myriad stories printed there.
I have always found the authors depicting present reality through these stories and events were woven round the ‘in things’ at that time, save a few ‘period pieces’. I have seen class struggle being the base of the majority of such stories in the early eighties. Cricket heroes replaced football heroes as a protagonist of the stories after one Sourav Ganguly proved that even the ‘mach bhat khaoa Bangali’ can play cricket at the very highest levels. A couple of years back many stories had ‘land acquisition’ as the backdrop.
The moot point is that I have found that these stories are a veiled attempt at contemporary social commentary.
Of late, specially this year , I have found graphic descriptions of sex, lesbianism and seduction in a majority of the stories.
Are we becoming adults or is the social fabric, as we knew it, going for a makeover? Or have the authors realised that sex sells? What say?