Friday, October 16, 2009

Acrid flashes...



"Jay!! We cant eat only faral. Let's make some pohe." I start slicing the red onions and idaho potatoes. Thoughts drift...

A blast. Damn those next door hooligans. Rassi bombs puncture my sleep at 5 am. I see the kitchen light on. The heavy thud in the head is taken over by the sweet realization of the occasion. I brush up quick, to wait in line for my turn at the ceremonial oil massage from Aai. Gentle curves of rangoli encircle the baithak (seat) and the light from a silver sanai (lamp) embellishes the oil-laden torso of my chubby brother sitting on it. He moves out for the holy bath, and I beat my father for the hot seat. I toy with the idea of lighting the laxmi bomb in the fresh dung cake a cow left in our courtyard, while mom massages my eager limbs and accidentally pokes me in the eye bringing me back to senses.

"Neel, let us make a kandil out of the Kohl box cover!" Inku rummages through the cupboard, wreaks the closet and begins the lengthy design process in the typical Inku excitement. I run to lower the flame on the burning onions...

The bath smells of fresh sandalwood soap and the royal 'utna'. Layer upon layer of fragrant ointments pile on my skin as I scrape off the remnants of previous night's firework soot. I dress up in wrinkled garments, gather my beloved fire-crackers drying up in the balcony and run off to ring my colony kids to join in the fray. Squeals of delight, pitter-patter down the steps and with the ferocity of a bull let loose; we find the safest corner in the compound to pile our crackers and the most unsafe one to light them up. A violent war with aapti bombs, ultra-pollutionistic snakes, damp chakris whizzing under everyone's feet, bright anaars blinding one's eyes and shattering blasts of laxmi and rassi bombs light up the compound. Hanging sparkling fulbajis on branches to look like flowers, throwing a lavangi with naked hand and the ultimate act: lighting a bomb in the cowdung; creativity hits the high notes! The wick burns down as everyone runs to hide from the imminent splatter. A resounding blast and the dung finds its way in the nook and corner of neighboring walls leaving a crater in its wake. As the dawn hits the skies, all leftover over fireworks and boxes are arranged in a neat pile and set on fire...

Bell screeches. Friends pour in with regional delicacies ranging from Vattu Kollam to kande pohe. Greetings galore, silver foiled diyas adorn the ledges and stairways. Everyone gather for a traditional aarti to appease the God(s) so that one can hog on the food guilt-free. Rhythm sets in.

We run back to get dressed in the finest of garments and visit the temple. Hair neatly oiled and parted, little powder-puffed faces set out to the nearest temple to seek blessings and good marks in the Unit Tests. A prayer, a pradakshina and a prasad later, we run back to soothe our rumbling tummies with tasty faral. I enter the house half-floating to the smell of fresh pohe and shankarpale, chaklis, besan ladoo, karanji and chivda. Happy faces beam at me urging me to eat my fill but I fail miserably at the task at hand. A loving hand caresses my hair and pulls my cheek and I brush it aside as I crunch on the karanjis...

The potluck paltan pounces on the food as hounds on a kill. All well-fed entities sit round in a amoebic circle to play a game or two of Mafia. The house soon turns into a fish market, with everyone testing their decibel limits on fellow villagers. Occasional punches of "Sshhh" and intermittent gasps at Rutgers' football match puncture the otherwise vibrant atmosphere. 12 am strikes and the folks decide to retire for the day. I wave and I smile as I feel a familiar wisp of air ruffle my hair and plant a good night kiss on my cheek...

Creative Commons License
When US beckoned me by Siddharth Wagh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

8 comments:

Neel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vishnuvardhanan Vijayakumar said...

Wonderful to relive those childhood days.

Mohit said...

Nicely written!

Onkar said...

Very well written.

Mohnish Kulkarni said...

Superb!! Probably one of the best ive read!!!! Damn i miss diwali even more now!!! :-)

balaji said...

great!!Nicely described the cherished moments of Diwali... I wan go back to home to enjoy this all....

Srinivas Iyer said...

Why so senti ??

S.Wagh said...

I like to keep it varied... and if you think this is senti, you havent read my very first post :)