Oct 22, 2008

Happy Diwali

Warning: Long post. One part senti, one part stupid, all badly shaken and not stirring.
(Putting it up early since I am on leave during Diwali).

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Once upon a time, not so long ago, there lived a little brat in a town near the foothills of Ooty. He was a normal child in a normal town.

He had a typical middle class upbringing. Parents who strived to inculcate ‘values’ in him, blissfully unaware that all their efforts would go waste some twenty years later. Parents who stretched a rupee like only middle class moms and dads can, ensuring that the brat is never short of all the things he needs, but slightly short of all the things he demands.

However, even value-inducing parents have their weak spots. And every brat is born with the mysterious ability to recognize them. So every year, during Diwali, the brat saw to it that the rupee was stretched further and more crackers were bought than was affordable. And the parents usually gave in. Just so that the brat’s face can light up as bright as the sparklers he held. Just so that his spirits may soar as high as the rockets he lit up. (The same brat would grow up and look at crackers as a perfect way to “blow up money”, but we are not in the brat’s boring miserly present, but his stupidly nostalgic past).

Thus the crackers were bought. A big, fat carton of them. Multi-coloured sparklers. Rockets which went straight into the neighbour’s first floor window. Flower pots which nearly blew up the brat’s face the year before. Ear-shattering bombs which thankfully did not kill innocent people but merely made them deaf. And other utterly useless stuff which strangely fascinate a young brat.

The brat, like all his fellow brats, followed a curious tradition of ‘sun-bathing’ his crackers, in the belief that exposing them to the sun made the rockets soar higher, and the bombs to burst louder. The brat never questioned whether it was scientifically true, as the brat never had a scientific bent of mind. (Never would too). But every day, for a week before Diwali, the brat would lovingly spread his treasure on a mat under the hot sun, taking the crackers out one by one, visualizing the pleasure of bursting the crackers. And every evening, at sunset, he would carefully pack the treasure back into the carton, one by one.

The brat also visited fellow brats, to compare their treasure to his. And always came away a bit disappointed. He was too young to understand why his dad couldn’t buy some more crackers. After all, the fellow brat’s dad worked in the same company. But, the brat’s mom was an expert in child psychology, and always managed to make the brat feel that he had the best cracker collection in town. (The grown up brat takes a moment to bow to her genius).

Anyways, to cut this boring story short, the D-day arrived. And the brat took his treasure chest to the verandah, and started lighting up his crackers one by one. Even his genius of a mom couldn’t take his attention away from the rapidly diminishing pile of crackers. The brat remembered the Mahabharata story and fervently prayed for a never-emptying vessel of crackers.

Presently, two kids (we can’t call them brats by any stretch of imagination) from down the street came near his door. They were poor kids, whose parents did not have a rupee in the first place for them to stretch. The kids just stood by in a corner, and watched wistfully as the brat proceeded to burst his crackers with glee.

The brat’s mom, ever generous to a fault, called the kids over and handed them one cracker each. Not a packet, not even a few, just one each. She might have had the mind to hand over more, but the brat would have none of it. He, like Arjuna of the “I can see the eye of the bird and nothing else” fame in the Mahabharata, could only see his near-empty stock pile and not the kids’ plight. He threw a wild tantrum, he screamed, he flailed his arms, he kicked the ground, he cried, he acted stupid. He even threw his precious treasure pile on the ground and ran inside the house crying.

But the brat’s mom held firm. She just took the opportunity to hand over more crackers to the poor kids. She then coaxed the brat out of his favourite crying place in the fartheset corner of the room, and taught him to watch the joy in the faces of the kids as they took turns to burst the crackers. She even made the brat hand over a few crackers to them.

It would take a few more years for the brat to realize that there is more joy in seeing the poor kids lighting up crackers than bursting them yourself. The grown up brat wishes he would remember the joyful faces of those kids more often than a once-a-year-senti-attack.

Apparently, value-inducing parents and their brain washing have a more lasting effect than the grown up brat would care to admit.
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Happy Diwali people. And much prosperity too.

6 comments:

  1. mmm... happy diwali da... :)

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  2. Anonymous11:51 PM

    great one!
    Happy Diwali bro

    Tushar

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  3. @ monk:
    tnk u... i know how happy ur Diwali is ;)

    @ tushar:
    tnk u... and hope Diwali brings some good news on the economy front... else, no projects will get financed, and we'll be reading and writing blogs all day :)

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  4. Kamal4:07 AM

    Happy diwali bro... nice post after a long time :P

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  5. @ kamal:
    Happy Diwali to u too...
    and i shall accept that 'left-handed' compliment ;)

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  6. That was superb! Hats off to you.

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