The blessed memories of Diwali

Hands folded in Nameste and head innocently bowed in front of Goddess Lakshmi’s in our small temple in the living room, I am sitting next to my Grandma. Now, dressed up smartly in black achkan (indo-western jacket) and white churidar pajama with a white pearl necklace around my neck, I am putting tikka on my grandpa’s forehead. And here at our terrace with my beautiful mom smiling in her yellow chiffon, holding a phuljhadi (sparkler) in my hand from behind and asking me to look towards my dad taking our picture, but looks like I am more into that phuljhadi than the picture. Thank you dad for capturing these memorable moments and many more, for these are the ones through which I still, after so many years, cherished my childhood Diwali celebrations.

As a child, I was madly fascinated by Diwali – the festival of light, though for me it was more a festival of crackers. I don’t remember my age then, just old enough when kids are allowed to step down alone to the nearby market. That street near our house is very narrow, and during the festival, with the crackers and sweets shops stretched almost to the middle from both ends, it used to become crowded, noisy and “lively”.

DiwaliMy crackers shopping used to begin a week before Diwali with pencil bombs and taabeez (triangle shape bombs). They were 100 for five and 2 packets a day were decently budgeted in my pocket-money. All that week, morning to evening, mostly alone at my terrace, except a few times with my friend Varun, I used to blast those bombs. Crazy isn’t? Divyang, my younger brother, was least interested in joining me. I am still not sure why he never enjoyed crackers. In this case, he is very much like grandpa who always refrain us from bursting crackers. His reason is pollution of course which I am sure is not Divyang’s. But grandma always use to give me money for crackers (the expensive and fancy ones). She is simply the best.

A few times I got light burns but no one knows about them yet. After that “bomby” (to avoid writing “bombing”) week, the terrace used to look like a dirty pit with busted bombs, ashes, burnt papers and match sticks all over. On the Diwali afternoon, I used to sweep clean the terrace by myself with the same enthusiasm and excitement. Then after putting a folding bed for everyone to comfortably sit and enjoy the show of fancy crackers, I used to light hundred of candles on all around the terrace boundary to brighten up our Diwali house some more. The very next morning, I would be the first one to go upstairs to gather the melted wax of those candles for making the hand-made different-shapes candles. Recycling, you see.

I had a similar passion for greeting cards then. I used to handmade Diwali cards for all my close relatives and friends – trying to make all different and as beautiful as I could. Then with my Grandma’s help, I also used to prepare envelopes for them, matching the color with the card (those were the days when we didn’t have loose envelopes in the nearby stationary shop).

I loved to watch my mom making rangolis and painting on our doorway the little footsteps, white and beautiful, welcoming the Goddess Lakshmi to walk through our house on that auspicious evening to pour her blessings on us. We also used to hang a kandil, with an electric bulb inside it, high on the television antenna, so that at Diwali night, it lit colorful inside the kandil. At every house, there used to be at least one Kandil of some weird shape and bright color. In this cable and internet era remain no more television antennas and no more kandils on them, but still we buy a kandil and hang it somewhere inside the house.

Dad used to take me along with him to greet relatives and friends with Diwali sweets and gifts, and eventually, as I grew up, dad handed over this responsibility to me. I never enjoyed doing it alone except for visiting some close relatives. And so I handed it over to Divyang as soon as he grew up a little more. I think he, being an extrovert, loved it, except when not lazy.

Amidst all these beautiful blessed memories, I have a memory which is not pleasant but equally blessed for no one was hurt. I was very small then. My mom-dad, uncle-aunt, Divyang, all were there on terrace celebrating the Diwali evening. Someone gave me a sparkler and after a few seconds, scared of getting my hand burned, I just dropped it completely ignorant of the fact that I am standing next to the box full of crackers. The only scene I remember is that the rocket bombs going all over the terrace, my mom running towards the staircase holding Divyang and dad rushing towards me to drag me inside our terrace store-room. Thanks Almighty, no one was hurt. BE VERY CAREFUL and SAFE THIS DIWALI!

For the Diwali pooja, everyone in their best outfit sit next to each other, bow and pray. A few times, we used to celebrate the festival together with our close relatives and the joy was manifold. I pray to feel that joy again. After the pooja, we used to dance on the loud music and run towards the terrace for the fireworks. One time along with Nishtha and Suketu, I had this crazy fun of having a bonfire with piles of old newspaper and throwing bullet bombs in it causing the ashes and pieces of burnt newspaper to blew up creating beautiful images and we used to dance around that. After getting tired with all the dance and fireworks, we used to play cards together till the wee hours of the morning.

And this is how I celebrated my Diwali as a child, as a teenager, and a few times as an adult. The best of times and celebrations! I miss that. I miss my family. I miss that fun. Well, I am going to attend Diwali pooja this year with my lovely family…over FaceTime.


True story: The camera

“Wow, this is incredibly magnificent,” Isha yelled with a big smile swinging her head from one corner to another inside one of the grand broadway show theatres at the Time Square in New York. It was running the famous Mary Poppins and was packed as any broadway show. Though we both had huge backpacks on our shoulders, we managed our way through the elegant crowd to our well-reserved seats, excited than ever to experience our first broadway show.

The theatre hall was splendid, and even with very dim lights, was tempting us to take photographs. I opened my bag, slid the hand inside the pocket for the camera, but didn’t find it. I almost skipped a heartbeat and nervously looked at Isha, who was still admiring that luxurious beauty while waiting for me to hand her  over the camera. She looked at my blank face and guessed instantly. “There are so many things in this pocket. Look properly, it must be there,” she said confidently but her smile was gone. I took out some stuff and slid my hand a little deeper and there was it, hiding itself behind my blackberry. “Thanks Lord! I felt scared not because the camera is expensive but because it’s not ours,” I uttered in a relieved tone in her ear. “The other day only my friend was telling me how much he loves this camera and has so many memories with it, and I am sure he doesn’t have the backup of many of the photographs. Thanks Lord, it’s safe,” I sighed. “We should be extra careful with this camera. Let’s buy a lock for the bag after the show,” she suggested. Her smile was back and she started capturing beautiful pictures. The show was about to begin. I put the camera back carefully and kept the bag close to my chest the entire show.

After three hours, we came out completely mesmerized. The show was simply out of the world. Neither of us expected a musical drama with so many live performers to be so perfect and beautiful. It truly stood for its world-renowned popularity. But suddenly the camera incident brought me back to the reality. The bag was on my shoulders and I asked Isha to confirm all the pockets are properly zipped, especially the one with the camera. “Yes, all are zip tight. Let’s buy a lock now,” she responded. “I think we are uselessly worrying so much. I mean this is Times Square and I don’t think pickpocketing happens here,” I said in careless way. “But still what’s the harm in buying a lock,” she stressed.

After exact ten minutes, we were in a store waiting for our turn with a lock in my hand. She was in front of me in the queue, when a big guy standing behind tapped on my back saying, “hey man take care, your bag is open.” I felt a jerk of fear in my stomach even before I turned my head. My face went pale as I pulled the bag in front of me. The pocket was completely unzipped and the entire stuff was hanging out to jump on the floor. Isha held the bag when I madly shuffled things in that pocket to check for the camera. Isha searched after I failed but she didn’t find it either. A deep feeling of sadness sunk in both of us. I still had a hope that it might be hidden behind my blackberry, so I searched again. It was when we realized that the blackberry was also gone, including my glasses. And with them were gone all the moments captured by that camera.

I don’t know when it happened in those ten minutes. At the street while walking towards the store, in the store while picking the lock or in the queue while waiting for our turn, may be that big guy himself. But I do know I was ignorant. This happens everywhere and this time it happened with us, leaving my friend, Isha and me emotionally shattered.

The Morning and Myself

The Morning and Myself

The Morning is His favorite child,
Magical to bring back
Life into action,
And gives me a reason to start
With all my hopes alive.

The dawn beats the darkness
With a single white ray,
As my heart kills any inside devil
With a pure thought
On my morning walk way.

In the presence of the Morning
Becomes clear and calm
Even the violent black sea,
My eyes adores His manifested creation
He has started filling colors again
Now I can see.

Dewdrops star on leaves
Clean breeze flows free,
Birds dance in the flock
And trees go on a swinging spree,
Just the expression is different
Actually Nature is smiling with me.

With the rising Morning
I Feel the warmth
The Sun reduces cold,
The evil thoughts are dead
Inside resides me again
My cleansed soul.

And in its freshness
Silence prevails
The peace transcends beyond,
My heart and mind are in sync
And I feel with myself
The supreme bond.

– Ayush

One of my friends just asked me to put my name with the poem, else few might wonder that the poem is copied. I took this as a huge compliment and here goes my name with the poem ;-) So, people this poem is whole and sole my creation and its copyrights stay with me!

My another morning

Sun rises, gifting light
Birds fly, chirping fresh
Dogs stray, but howling stop
Oldies smile, stepping in park
Children ready, waiting for bus
Mothers stand, holding the bag
Morning back, bringing new life
I enter room, rubbing eyes
Tiring body, dead on my bed,
After a long night!