In most Indian homes, Diwali begins at least a week in advance. It begins with the smell of besan being fried to make ladoos, mum and grandmothers patiently getting the dough together to make the perfectly crisp chaklis, sweet coconut karanjyas being fried painstakingly...and among all this the task of making sure that kids do not get their paws into the sweets before Diwali comes.
My home was no different. My mom was a working woman but Diwali was the one time when she would hitch up her sari and get down into the mounds of sugar, maida, besan, nuts and what not, with my grandmother, and toil for a few days to make delicious Diwali goodies.
And who could forget rangoli? My mother would coerce me into helping her with making these powder designs?
Actual Diwali was quite tough on me. Waking up at the crack of dawn...ahh. Painful. But my grandma would drag me out of bed, pelt me with bone chilling water and uptan...perhaps the reason whyi still don't use uptan on my face...and then leave me to meander around the locality with my friends to burst crackers and what not.
I remember passing out all day during Diwali and then waking up in the evenings to the smell of some gorgeous Diwali food. Nights were reserved for crackers. Rationed at that too. Three zameen chakris, two firepots and one box of sparklers every day. And if u had an extra generous friend or a scared one, who would happily donate their fire crackers to u, now that was an icing on the Diwali cake.
Making new friends on Diwali, cousins of neighbours who had come from elsewhere, developing into crushes, and waiting to see them in the next vacation, stepping over a firecracker and vowing to kill stupid person who left it in the middle of the compound...and then limping towards the next firecracker...Diwali was full of these repeated memories each and every year, much like a colour xerox.
Things are different now. I don't make sweets at home. I'm not the cooking types so I mostly order out. Kiara doesn't make many new friends. Kids are busy with their iPads and hobby classes and TV and what not.
Is it why Diwali has lost its shimmer?
So this year, it's different. I'm going back home to my mom. We've consciously kept our commitments aside. She's making sweets. I can smell from afar. We've got crackers. Kiara has painted diyas. And we're all set for a ghar wali Diwali this year. After a long long time. We're going home. It's going to be Diwali. Like it should be.