This year’s Diwali was different for me. This year, I was given the responsibility of managing myself, I was given the choice to make this festival perfect or lousy, happy or grim for myself, because I was in control of everything. You see, my entire family complete with cousins and aunts packed their bags to tour Mumbai, leaving this girl behind, dwelling happily on their decision because the bookworm of the family is busy ‘studying’. My tution warmly gave us a special Diwali offer—‘special’ double maths classes! Charming, right? Honestly, I was not surprised, these ‘holiday specials’ keep happening in tution. Well, the classes too were fun, in a strange way to tell. I mean, we can’t be learning Integration anyway, because this time, on top of the rumble of the wretched Bangalore traffic, there were naughty kids all around bursting crackers like mad, making it all more difficult for the maths lecturer, and bless their souls, easier for us to accuse someone and tell the teacher, “We can’t hear a thing, sir!” (not like we would be listening if there was perfect silence anyway). And I was quickly updated on what’s stirring in the bollywood world when Uma mam was teaching Mechanical effect of electric current and also understood the entire storyline of Om Shanti Om and Saawariya, because a dear friend was kind enough to narrate them.
My Diwali was eco-friendly as always. On Friday morning, the wonderful kids down the road started burning crackers right from six in the morning so, the day started with a bang! And of course, a racing heart and a half-awake mind, which kept wondering why the house was not on fire. My Diwali shopping included books only (you needn’t remind me I am an unusual teenager)—I got a strange book called the ‘Power of your Subconscious Mind’, ‘A century old detective stories’ (They are REALLY outdated stories, I mean, after learning all about DNA fingerprinting, tandem repeats and genetic coding, tyring to find the murderer by studying facial expressions is really lame but the book came off real cheap at the bookfair at the Indian Institute of World Culture!) and O Henry’s short stories—I remember someone had suggested the book to me some time ago, so I pounced on it as soon as I caught sight of it!
One of my relatives arrived with her kids to celebrate Diwali with me, and share some yummy food. A cousin came from Pune to celebrate the festival and we stayed up way past bed-time playing Sequence, Bluff and Chowka-baara. Needless to say, in the next day’s tution classes, my head was lolling, thank goodness the teacher didn’t notice. I watched a lot of TV---I watched Chak De India which was on C-Bangalore, lounged a little reading my books, and visited my childhood friends, who live around the corner, and yet, are so absorbed in their lives that it is often difficult for them to recognize me. All four of us gathered in my friend Shravya’s house in a deliberate effort to rediscover a lost friendship, and ended up talking so much that it was eight in the night by the time I went home. We also visited the studios to get a nice photo clicked. My cousin’s sleeping over at my place every day, and has promised to bring in a nice CD to watch today. On Friday afternoon, we went to the hotel for lunch, and I chatted away happily without a care in the world, because, obviously, it was Revathi’s treat, and we really enjoyed the food and the chatter.
You will be happy to know that I am not forgetting my manners or etiquette. In spite of all the stuff going on, I am miraculously calm. I did not throw a tantrum when they said, “Lakshmi, you’re not coming to Mumbai”, I did not feel sad or hurt, I did not groan when the teacher curtly said “Double maths classes!” Instead, I’m making it a pretty happy Diwali for myself. Now that is a tough job, especially when you are in second PU and the teachers are intent on straining your brain cells to overwork. If you’re a teenager missing out on all the fun, even attending classes and special classes and tests on Sundays loosing temper is quite easy. You’ll be resembling a dog chained to the leash, howling in frustration. But Lakshmi Bharadwaj has control on her Spleen, I cannot be angry so easily. All signs of frustration were erased when I decided to enjoy my Diwali alone, no matter anything. No one should rob me of the right to celebrate, and no one did. And guess what? My Diwali was not spent solitarily, loads of people joined in to celebrate. Cousins, friends and real chums turned up. And I did have a blast, without burning a single cracker.
Well, the fact is, I missed my family a lot this Diwali, but this year’s Diwali was not about moping around, cursing my fate, or I-hate-missing-out-on-all-the-fun attitude. It was about meeting up with friends and cousins, eating, laughing, lighting up the festival of lights with a thousand smiles. And that, my friends, is warmer than the electrical lights we use to light up our homes.