Very unusual weather. Moody rain pouring once in a while. Roads and lanes are half wet. I stepped into the Kalibari lane. Loads of devotees jostling to get closer to the deity. I joined the league. Diverse minds meet on the ground of faith. All of us have something to ask for. Do most people ask for the same thing or most us have unique demands. Not sure, if ever a statistic is plotted, how would it look like! Chanted the holy mantras with many unknown faces around and slowly stepped back to the shoe rack. Happy to see them there. No joke, have lost it in past.
Back home with the prasad, the blessed offerings, a box of darbesh made by the local sweet shop. Indulging in sweets mark the taste of celebration. After a late lunch, sat by the window. Few rain droplets were hanging from the painted grills of the pane. It reminded me of dew-drops, something I have missed seeing for decades. Yes, you guessed it right I am lazy, connect with grass is long lost. But dews are also history. Nature has fast changed to keep pace with the momentum of the civilization. Wish we had gone bit slow. Now we have no choice.
Like those dew-drops have some memories of childhood which too are long lost. This time of the year, it used to be mild cold in our place. The small town, a connected neighborhood, candle lit homes and unending fun. Over a week in increments we bought crackers. Religiously they were roasted under the sun for couple of days prior to Diwali. This was when mutual disclosure happened on what one possessed more than the other. Bridging inequality certainly meant some more funding. Some cried to get attention, some negotiated to bargain, some stole to make it happen the crook way and some latched on to go the hook way.
And with the fall of night it was war of lights all over. Tarabati, was the starter for the evening. The silver sulphur burnt till the edge before we threw the iron stick on the sand bed made for the day. This was meant for girls or underage kids. Ever long I remained in this category. The first burst of the chocolate pataka (often called chocolate bomb) far off from the next neighborhood was a signal to begin. Most neighborhood had fiery boys, who would move on with dodoma – the cylindrical looking cracker that had only decibel effect but was sold the most. The other popular one for our category of players was rangmashal. Colour, light, more than usual decibel and some burnt chemicals made those evenings memorable.
Diwali was meant for children to assemble in the neighborhood barren playground called ‘parar mat’. Bappa, Babu, Munia, Tumpa, Bapi, Raju, Soma, Rupa guess every neighborhood had these nick names to call upon. The resonance of the euphoria of these kids went high as the sprinklers and the sparkles of the Tubri shoot up in the air and oozed out for few minutes. Not each rose that high as much one would aspire. Some occasionally lasted more than expected. A pack of Kalipotka, that is how most of us have called it, was a must have recipe for the evening. Quite annoying in nature and reflected how painful it is if a pack burns.
A few ventured for weird ones named rocket crackers which almost called for a launch pad. Trashed medicine bottles severed the purpose. It was always a moment of fear and then eyes in the air to trace the beauty unfurl in the mid-air. Last few years of childhood had graduated to enjoy the floor cracker called chorki, the dancing queen of crackers. It was an area of overspend. Had to do a stock clearance in the following days too. That’s how Diwali spilled over to bhai-phota (bhai-dhuj) the regional festival that knocked the door next. And with that our annual autumn holidays would come to a closure.
All idols immersed. Dewdrops on the lawn-weeds quite visible. Early winter must have crept in and schools reopened. In a school cardigan, face half hidden in the hand woven woolen scarf, with history geography physics on shoulder, must have stood in the same bus-stop for the school bus to arrive. It was just one more Puja holidays that got over.
The rain has paused. The cup candles need to be lit in sometime. Its once again Diwali.
In my country nature has mostly withdrawn winter as a season, many governments have banned crackers for valid reasons, neighborhood have given ways to gated communities for a purpose and most importantly life has moved on and my school bus permit is long over.
Flash of childhood celebration is enlightening.