The time when we miss home the most

Rishab Rammohan , IIK Young Contributor
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Rishab Rammohan
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It is that time of the year again.

Apartments compete with one another to decorate their houses with electric lights with whatever space their humble balconies allows. Entering Eddie and other Indian stores is always a mouthwatering experience with huge festive packs of Haldiram and A2B sweets stacked near the entrance. Stationary shops and small Indian stores are thronged by people to buy Diyas and Diwali décor items. Whatsaap groups of women are abuzz with conversations on which Indian store to buy the white rangoli powder or to get the right Murukku mix so that we get the same results of the Murukku or Chaklis made back home. Lavish parties are planned and re-planned to fit in the working schedule of our parents as our Indian Festivals often fall during weekdays only and we have to make do with the get together on weekends even if Diwali is yet to come or long gone.

So no matter where we are, NRIs manage to celebrate this festival with as much Dhamaka and fanfare as we do back home. And yes, it ALMOST starts feeling like home. Well, that’s the keyword – ALMOST but not exactly like home.

For me, a 11 year old who was born and grew up in Kuwait, but also had the privilege of relocating to India for a brief period of 2 years, Diwali is a mixed bag of emotions.

Yes, it is the time I look forward to, to taste the sweets and delicacies that my Mom would make and allow us to eat guilt-free, for once. I also look forward to doing my bit in decorating the house, making the Rangoli and meeting my buddies in the parties that our family would attend.

But memories of the 2 most beautiful Diwali’s I had, back home also come flooding back and prick my conscience.

My first Diwali in India took place in Chennai a couple of years ago when we did the simple Lakshmi Puja at home, drove out to a wholesale Fire Crackers selling store, loaded our car trunk with crackers to our hearts content and were on our way home to celebrate Diwali like any other normal family. My mother had to make a brief stop at a Children’s Home to pass on some sweets and a few crackers she had set aside to contribute. Not wishing to wait in the car, we were curious enough to join her. It was a Home run by an NGO to take care of kids whose parents were afflicted by AIDS.

Once inside, we were greeted by the happiest bunch of children I had ever seen in my life. They were so happy with the little gifts and whatever few crackers that people had donated. It made me cringe at myself for having been so demanding to my Dad a while ago while buying the crackers. The crackers we had bought for them were gone in a jiffy too. I did stand there for a while, with some hesitation in my mind. My Mom gave me a look trying to say something but couldn’t. But my Dad read my thoughts and asked me go back to my car trunk and take the remaining crackers inside to share with my new friends. Those few moments spent with them, bursting the crackers and laughing together, remains my single most beautiful memory of Diwali.

The second Diwali spent in India was with my Mom’s uncle and aunt as my grandparents couldn’t make it to Chennai and my Dad was not in town too. I still remember the warmth with which we were welcomed into their house, the affection with which we were fed delicacies and how my Thatha and Avva (Mom’s uncle and aunt) left no stone unturned to ensure that we don’t miss my Dad that Diwali. We also visited another set of Thatha-Patti (another aunt and uncle of my Mom) to celebrate their daughter’s Thala Deepavali (the first Diwali for a newly married couple). What fun it was to burst crackers together on the terrace and to share a special meal together with close family members!! That huge circle of immediate and extended family members and their love and affection is what I miss here the most, during such festivals.

So friends, during festivals like these, do pause for a moment and remember that Diwali is not all about having lavish meals or exchanging expensive gifts. But it is also about knowing the true joy of sharing our blessings with those less fortunate than us! Believe me that memory will stay with you forever as it did for me.

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