Sunday, 19 October 2014

Away from Home (#GharwaliDiwali)

It was our first Diwali away from home. The city had outdone itself as fairy lights hung from canopies above streets, colourful lanterns shone bright against the night skies and women in gorgeous hues blew conchs as others went around lighting candles and bursting crackers. We sisters watched stunned as colourful fireworks burst against the night sky and then faded away only to be outshone by brighter fireworks. Yet it wasn't home.

 (The lonely balcony )

‘Beautiful, isn't it?’ my elder sister asked.

‘Ofcourse, but candles? Diyas are so much better. Remember how Papa would go shopping on Diwali eve and buy hundreds of diyas?’ I replied.

‘And then on the day of Diwali we would sit around all day shaping cotton threads and pouring oil into the diyas. You know I hated going into the backyard alone. But Mom would always assign me the task of decorating the backyard. It was creepy.’

‘Mom must be doing it all alone this year’, I said quietly.

(Lanterns on the streets)

We both fell silent. A thin spark of light shot up into the sky and burst into golden shimmer. Suddenly I started missing home terribly - the excitement and anticipation, the impatience, the coming together of the whole family to celebrate Diwali and most importantly the traditions. We would sit beside Ma as she offered prayers to Mother Lakhsmi and pay our tributes to the Goddess by lighting the first cracker in front of the deity.

The shrill sound of my sister’s ring tone filled my ears. ‘It’s Vishal! Let’s put him on speaker,’ said my sister excitedly.

‘Ahoy idiots! Have you burst any crackers yet?’ came my brother’s voice over the phone.

‘Nah... Don’t feel like,’ we chimed at the same time.

‘Great. Just hold on. Ma is just about to finish the puja. Get your crackers ready. I’m getting mine as well.’

First Diwali away from home)

All of a sudden, the distance no longer mattered. For one precious moment, we felt like we were together, standing in front of the deity with our crackers, all excited like four year-olds as we waited for Ma to finish the puja. And no sooner my brother screamed “Happy Diwali” over the phone, our crackers burst forth into sparks and we grinned like fools, elated as the sparks consumed the stick and fizzled away.

‘That was precious Vishal, wasn't it?’ I asked.

‘It always is sweetheart, it always is,' came Ma’s voice over the phone.

And as the city shimmered with joy, we looked back at the sky, our hearts a little lighter, our smiles a little brighter for we had found home for a few prized minutes. We brought out the candles and fairy lights, decorating the lonely balcony and calling out to neighbours as they hung lanterns, the balcony coming alive beneath our hands as the fairy lights happily twinkled and the colourful candles cheerfully dazzled, heralding the onset of Diwali.

 Celebrating #GharwaliDiwali with

Watch the PepsiCo #GharWaliDiwali film

(Photo Credits: Tarunima Dutta and Myself)


  1. That was a sweet story! Thanks for sharing.. :)

  2. Happy Diwali to u.I can understand how u missed your family.

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